By Kathryn Soter | The GFDA

I was in London last month and attended a circular economy showcase hosted by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation in conjunction with design leader, IDEO, fittingly held at the Round House, in London’s Chalk Hill Farm neighborhood. EMF believes that through design and new thinking we can eliminate waste, pollution, and regenerate nature to create a circular economy that benefits people, business, and the natural world. Their initiatives target the food, fashion, construction, and packaging industries.

Net Net: the technology is here. Now it’s all about how to scale.

“Designing circular products in a linear system will never get us there fast enough.”    

Shaja Bhooshan, Zaha Hadid Architects

EMF’s primary focus is on our food supply chain because of its massive global impact on human health. The second most wasteful industry is fashion, and a third pillar is the construction industry and reimagining cities of the future. I was introduced to several manufacturers of bio based building materials, such as hemp, mycelium and various types of concrete and cement alternatives.

Plus, there was a fascinating video on 3D printed bridge designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in collaboration with Holcim, a global leader that specializes in innovative and sustainable building solutions and products. Their goal, to build better with less, and to build new buildings from old buildings. They’ve developed a new process that takes construction waste and turns it into new building materials across aggregate, cement and concrete.

The main goal of the EMF is to drive innovation at scale. This has to be accomplished in three areas:

Governments -which have a huge, massive impact because of the sheer number of projects globally, and because of policy. There is a push to change codes faster so we can get there faster.

Investors – need to provide low-cost funds for inventors. The innovations and systems are here, they’re just not scaling fast enough.

Designers and Architects – need to specify more circular and low carbon materials. Period. Historically, architects, engineers, contractors and manufacturers were segregated for legal and liability reasons. But now there is a real opportunity with computers being the common language to change that, “With technology, we can bring these disciplines back together again to solve these problems collaboratively; solve the problems the world needs us to solve,” says Shaja Bhooshan of Zaha Hadid Architecture.

Above: 3D printed concrete bridge project designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in collaboration with Holcim. Holcim is a global leader in sustainable building solutions and products. They have recycled 34 million metric tons of construction debris into new construction products.

Watch the EMF Summit video. Skip to 52:23 to hear Kate Geraghty from Holcim. And to see a very cool animation of the Circular Design Toolkit for building of the future, achieving Net Zero and creating a Nature Positive future. (my favorite new phrase!) skip to 58:20. You can also find a Circular Buildings Toolkit designed by Arup in collaboration with EMF:


Above: the Turkish Pavilion at the London Design Biennale, an enormous hexagonal wind chime.

I also attended the London Design Biennale, which is a global stage for world-leading contemporary design and design-led innovation, creativity and research. Check out the 10 best exhibits HERE including the Polish-Ukrainian-British Humanitarian effort to send hundreds of reclaimed windows to Ukrainians to help rebuild their homes.

This month’s Low-waste Leader !! Shout-Out !!: HAINES COLLECTION

My trip to London wrapped up in style when I met with a low-waste leader based in the UK, Jules Haines founder and director of the Haines Collection. At the GFDA, we like to ask, What was your “aha moment” that drove you to do something about the waste in our industry? For Jules, it was when she realized how many beautiful surplus textiles from work rooms, design studios and manufacturers were literally going to landfills. So she developed an online platform for the resale of gorgeous, but unwanted textiles and has expanded into selling wallpaper, lights and accessories, too.

Haines was motivated to shake up the interior design industry by what was happening in Fashion. In her Open Letter to the Interior Design Industry, the company states: “Fashion houses were called out for burning their handbags and clothes in 2018. . . (now) the interiors industry needs to be called out for burning their leftover stock or sending it to landfill. We need to look at how the fashion industry has changed its ways and do the same.”

Haines Collection has plans to open a US division next year, but you can shop their collection today. For more information:

Kathryn Soter is the executive director of the Good Future Design Alliance Tell us what you think. Write to me at: LINKEDIN Follow us on Instagram