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Attitudes versus actions: are interior designers genuinely embracing sustainable design through material selection?

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 08:32 authored by Kirsty MateKirsty Mate

There would appear to be a recent shift in the relationship between the interior design industry and sustainability. In Australia, for example, over 100 commercial office projects (mainly interiors) are now registered for Green Star certification with the Green Building Council of Australia. However, is this an indication of a genuine change of attitude among interior designers in Australia, or is ‘sustainable design’ another passing fashion?

Research has shown that in order for long-term change to have effect, underlying values and perceptions need to change. This paper reports on a recent study in which twenty senior interior designers in Sydney were individually interviewed to assess their values and perceptions towards sustainability. We were interested to discover what influenced their decision-making when selecting materials and interior features. The results provide significant insights into the interior design industry and a snapshot of how it is approaching sustainable design.

While the majority of those interviewed claimed to agree on the importance and value of sustainability and design, their behaviour and actions in making choices were often not consistent with their professed attitude. Many rely on clients or other external agencies to insist on sustainable design approaches; others rated the importance of environmental issues when making material selections as ‘low’ unless the client specifically instructed them to select materials for sustainable properties. Lack of confidence in their own knowledge and in the information about sustainable issues provided by suppliers was also a major concern.

This research study begins to illuminate the connection between the thinking and actions of interior designers and how their decisions are influenced by a concern for sustainability – or not. These findings are helpful in encouraging change among this cohort of designers. They reveal where additional resources, information and education can be effective in assisting the interior designer to make selections that are consistent with sustainable design.


Publication title

Proceedings from the Fifth International Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools in Australasia






School of Architecture and Design


Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia

Place of publication

New Zealand

Event title

5th International Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools in Australasia

Event Venue

Wellington, New Zealand

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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Copyright 2009 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

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