Over the past few years, vegan interior design has flourished in the design industry. If the concept of veganism is new to you, you might be wondering, “Isn’t veganism all about what we eat? What does it have to do with interior design?” The answer is simple. Living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t simply dictate the food that we eat, but rather is a way of living a compassionate and thoughtful life. That includes what’s on our plate and also what type of table our plate is on.
I recently had the opportunity to interview renowned designer Aline Dürr, a trailblazer in the field of vegan design. She has shown that it’s possible to create stunning interiors without compromising ethical values. Her work has inspired a new generation of vegan designers to explore vegan alternatives and challenge the status quo in design. You can listen to my interview with Aline in episode 149 of the Vedge Your Best podcast.
Speaking to Aline motivated me to dive deeper into the world of vegan interior design and how we can create beautiful spaces while remaining true to our vegan values.
What is Vegan Interior Design?
Vegan interior design combines the fundamental principles of a vegan lifestyle with the creative world of interior design. It’s about designing and organizing spaces—living rooms, bedrooms, offices, or any other area—in a way that mirrors our ethical commitments and values.
The essence of vegan interior design lies in making conscious and thoughtful choices. These are choices that honor all life forms, choices that take into account the well-being of animals, and choices that demonstrate that elegance and ethics can coexist harmoniously. It shows that designing beautiful, inviting, and cozy spaces can be accomplished kindly and with compassion.
It’s possible and exciting to craft visually appealing spaces while also being vegan, using furnishings made without animal products, animal byproducts, or animal derivatives.
Materials Used in Conventional Interior Designs that Aren’t Vegan
You might be surprised to learn that many conventional interior design materials are not vegan-friendly. Here are some common materials that aren’t vegan.
This is perhaps the most obvious non-vegan material. Leather, whether it’s used in furniture, rugs, or accessories, is made from animal skins. Did you know that even some natural leather alternatives may use animal-based products in their processing? It’s important to double-check the material and origins.
Wool is commonly used in rugs, carpets, and upholstery. It’s taken from sheep and other animals, making it a non-vegan material.
Silk is a luxurious material often used in bedding, window treatments, and upholstery. It’s produced by silkworms.
Down, used for its softness and insulation in pillows, comforters, and upholstery, is made from the feathers of ducks and geese.
Fur and Animal Hide
While less common in modern interior design, fur and animal hides are still used in some rugs and throw blankets.
Bone and Horn
Some decorative items and furniture pieces may use bone, horn, or shell, all of which are animal-derived.
Some Paints and Finishes
Some paints, varnishes, and adhesives may contain animal derivatives such as milk proteins, beeswax, or shellac (which comes from insects).
Some Wallpapers and Fabrics
Some wallpapers and fabrics are made or treated with finishes that contain animal products. For example, some wallpapers are printed with inks that contain animal fats.
In our interview, vegan interior designer Aline Dürr mentions that even wooden furniture, which many of us might assume is vegan, can sometimes be treated with beeswax to give the wood a polished finish.
She shares an experience in which she specified a couch for a client that was advertised as vegan. It had foam seating back cushions and vegan upholstery. However, upon further inquiry with the supplier, she discovered that the wood in the couch was polished with beeswax, making it not entirely vegan.
Aline emphasizes the importance of asking questions and being aware of these details. She believes that by asking these questions we can remind manufacturers of the need for vegan alternatives. Even if using beeswax in furniture seems like a small issue in the grand scheme of things, mentioning it to the manufacturer or supplier may lead to them considering alternatives they may not have considered.
Vegan home design isn’t just about not using animal by-products. It also emphasizes the use of natural plant-based materials that are often more sustainable than their animal-based counterparts. These materials make beautiful furnishings and help to reduce our carbon footprint, contributing to a healthier and more sustainable planet.
In addition to the materials we use, we also need to consider the processes involved in creating our interiors. Opt for paints that don’t release noxious chemicals, fabrics that are produced without animal farming or animal abuse, and furniture that is made fairly and ethically.
Thankfully, there are a variety of stylish vegan alternatives that are not only cruelty-free but also environmentally friendly. Here are some examples:
Many conventional paints are not vegan and can contain a host of harmful chemicals. However, there are vegan, water-based paints available that are better for both your health and the environment. Aline recommends looking for these when repainting your home.
When it comes to fabrics, there are several vegan and eco-friendly options. Aline suggests looking for fabrics that are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified or carry the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label. These certifications ensure that the materials are organic and exclude many toxic chemicals typically used in textiles. Natural fabrics like hemp and bamboo are excellent alternatives as they are soft, durable, and sustainable.
When it comes to furniture, consider pieces made from natural materials like jute, seagrass, and sisal. These materials are not only vegan but are also biodegradable and renewable.
Animal Leather Alternatives
There are numerous vegan alternatives to leather, including faux leather made from polyurethane or PVC. However, these materials are not the most environmentally friendly. More sustainable alternatives include leather made from cork, mushrooms, or even pineapple leaves!
When looking for rugs or carpeting, skip the wool and look for those made from cotton, jute, or synthetic materials. For upholstery, consider materials like cotton, linen, or vegan leather.
Veganizing Your Home, One Step at a Time
Embarking on the journey of transitioning to a vegan home can seem like a daunting task. Just remember: similar to transitioning to a vegan diet, veganizing your living spaces is a process.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to redesign your entire house at once. If you do, you might find the process stressful and discouraging. Instead, take it one room at a time, or even one piece at a time.
We recommend starting with a piece you need to add or update in your home anyway. If you need a new rug, look for a vegan option. Use the tips in this article as a starting point. Celebrate each change you make, and remember that every vegan choice you make is a step towards a kinder, more compassionate world. By choosing vegan and environmentally friendly materials, you can enjoy your space even more by knowing that it is a beautiful choice inside and out.