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Sustainable materials that don’t compromise design

A core role of Portaire is not only to assist you in creating beautiful designs, but also designs which make a responsible difference to the environment. We can all make a difference together! 

rattan material
July 14, 2022

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A major trend we saw in 2020 was sustainable design, making an appearance in every blog, magazine and event talk. The industry is starting to understand the impacts of our designs, but the knowledge required to make these decisions is still limited and requires the one thing designers are always short of… time.

Don’t be fooled though, sustainable materials do not have to compromise your design. Today we take a look into some of the most sustainable materials and just how beautiful they are. Next time you are creating a scheme, remember to include these materials into them!


Bamboo is considered a sustainable material, as it is fast-growing (it is actually a grass, not a tree), quickly renewable and it takes less energy to produce than wood.

A very versatile material, bamboo is a strong material which can be used structurally and is also very flexible. Bamboo can be used in many ways such as in window treatments, flooring, walling and in decorative ways.  When we think Bamboo we think relaxing spaces in Ibiza, Mykonos and Asia. To no surprise Soho House has created this natural material into something very chic and trendy in their new Mykonos Soho Roc House.

Mykonos Scorpios Interiors Bamboo Sustainable Design
Scorpios Beach Club in Mykonos
Mykonos Interiors Relaxing Rustic Design
Soho Roc House in Mykonos


Perhaps one of the trendiest materials at the moment also happens to be environmentally friendly. Rattan is quite similar to bamboo in terms of its sustainable benefits. It is fast growing, is produced in a low-energy and low-waste way (meaning it doesn’t have to be treated and processed that much),and since it is a natural material, it is recyclable and biodegradable. Because rattan is light and relatively flexible it is most commonly used in furniture, joinery and screening.

Rattan Interior Ideas Bar Design
Rattan Interior Ideas Bar Design
Rattan Interior Ideas Hospitality Interior Design
Richards Stanisich Rose Bay Hotel – 2020 Australian Interior Design Hospitality award


If you like stone you might also consider Terrazzo. Terrazzo has been used in Italy since the 18th century to create enticing, textured floors. By utilizing mixed marble scraps, recycled glass chips and cement – terrazzo is crafted from the waste materials of other projects. These small particles are combined to create the unique terrazzo designs we see – leaving virtually nothing to waste. As environmentally-friendly architecture becomes more and more imperative, terrazzo’s durability and long-lastingness continue to be a huge advantage in today’s world. Today it can be found on tables, walls, floors and bathroom sinks, amongst other interior items. 

Terrazzo interior design ideas
Terrazzo Interiors Antique and Vintage Furniture
Bedroom Interior Ideas with Antique Furniture Options
Garden House by Arent & Pyke

Polished Plaster

Interior rendering is growing in popularity. Achieving a concrete look that doesn’t have the environmental impacts a concrete wall does is truly amazing. The 4 finishes to look out for include Lime Wash, Tadelakt, Micro Cement and Clay Plaster. These amazing finishes can really enhance a space, bringing a softness and warmth unlike any other material. They are particularly impactful in a bathroom replacing the cold feel of tiles. These finishes are naturally made and non-allergenic. They contain no toxins or gases (no VOC’s) so are a great option to replace  paint.

Rustic sustainable interior design hallway
Rustic kitchen ideas with timber and plaster
Rustic Bathroom Interiors Polished Plaster with Oak timber
Interiors by Nathalie Deboel

Reclaimed wood

An obvious one and definitely one of the most popular options available. Reclaimed wood creates a sense of warmth and familiarity in a space. By using reclaimed wood, you not only reduce your footprint, you are also adding sustainability to your home. A lot of these repurposed pieces of wood have a real history to them such as railway sleepers and old warehouses. Rich in history and texture, reclaimed wood is one of our favourites.

Axel Vervoodt Interior Design Ideas
Axel Vervoodt Reclaimed Timber Interior Ideas
Axel Vervoodt Rustic Bathroom Ideas
Interiors by Axel Vervoodt


Beautifully crafted, undeniably fragile and effortlessly delicate, glass also happens to be endlessly recyclable. For centuries glass has been used in interiors to create decorative form and texture as seen in places of worship.Through recent years, glass has seen great development with endless types being used in interiors including frosted, etched, tinted, laminated and our personal favourite reeded. When trying to open up a space, glass is always a great option and is perfect for cabinets, walls, splash backs and furniture.

Sustainable materials for interior design glass
Sustainable materials for interior design glass
Sustainable materials for interior design glass
Toorak Home by Hecker Guthrie

Natural Stones

You can’t go past natural stone and even better, recycled natural stone. Natural stone is very durable and requires low maintenance, whilst also being recyclable. Given the variety of colours and styles naturally available it’s almost always used in interiors for bench tops, bathrooms and fire mantles. If you are able to source the stone locally it is even better to minimise your carbon footprint.

Sustainable materials for interior design natural stone aesop
Sustainable materials for interior design natural stone aesop
Sustainable materials for interior design natural stone aesop
Aesop Store in Bath UK

There are so many beautiful materials to choose from which won't compromise our planet so next time you are designing keep these materials in mind.

Please comment below if there are other materials you love to work with that are sustainable.

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