Is the Lack of Promotion of Sustainability on Instagram, within the Discipline of Interior Design a Marketing Strategy, or is the Field Behind in its Response to Climate Change?
Being an architect student, you would assume my passion lies solely in the exterior design of the building. However, from a young age interior design has captivated and inspired me to push the boundaries about the way I envision space, texture, and form.
While I adore architecture, I have always believed that I would become an interior architect and designer. Considering this, I really wanted to research into the disciplines approach to climate change, and compare it against architectures. After hours searching the internet, I was surprised to find that only a few resources exist on the topic. This prompted me to look at my favourite Instagram interior design accounts to find the research that I needed. But again, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I started to realize that the commonality among these accounts were the continuous promotion of spaces that were beyond opulent, with excessive use of non-renewable resources. Why is it that these interior design accounts are not addressing the issue of climate change? Is there just a lack of reaction within the discipline, or is it a marketing tactic used on Instagram?
To try and narrow down the answer I picked two of my favourite interior design Instagram accounts, analysing each of their pages by colour coding each post. Red represents posts that don’t mention sustainability, orange shows posts with implied sustainability and green shows post that specifically mentions sustainability. The first account, Architectural Digest (AD), is arguably the most widely known interior design and architecture magazine on the platform. With a reach of 5.6 million followers, it promotes some of the most prestigious projects of world-renowned architects and interior designers. Image 1 shows that out of the set of posts on AD’s page, none specifically mention sustainability, 1 post implies a sustainable approach was used and 14 have no mention of sustainability whatsoever. In the post which implied a sustainable approach was used, it stated “the table is made from a 1980’s Italian base and a custom walnut top” . This subtle references to recycling and re-purposing materials, is insufficient for the everyday reader to pick up that an implied sustainable approach was used. To pave sustainability, the discipline of interior design should be making bold statements. These subtle nuances cannot educate or challenge reader’s views on sustainability.
I also analysed one of Australia’s own interior designs firms, ‘Alexander & Co.’s’ Instagram page. In Image two, zero posts specifically mentioned the use of sustainability, while one post merely implied the use of a sustainability stating “Reclaimed and restored furniture and lighting heralds a vintage feel” . Sadly, once again it seems as if there is a lack of emphasis from the design discipline to educate their reader on climate change, and create a shift towards forwarding thinking strategies to a sustainable future. With a slight tweak of the caption to ‘It was important to our client to incorporate sustainable approaches to the design, as well as maintain a vintage feel, thus we opted to use reclaimed and restored furniture to achieve both the client’s requests’, a completely different message could have been conveyed. Perhaps it’s simply a marketing approach, but most likely it’s a lack of reaction of the discipline to promote change and use their power as a collective to make a difference towards global warming.
Although, there are interior designers who are playing their part in changing their design techniques to a more sustainable approach. The discipline as a collective need to come together and make a conscious effort to talk about climate change and how it will be impacting their field. What better way to do so then on the platform of Instagram. Instagram is one of the most powerful tools that can be used to educated people and fellow designers, with the average user spending 53 minutes on Instagram a day.  According to “Kang and Guerin (2009), the efforts to gain knowledge about sustainable materials and products was considered too time consuming for the pressures of the designers’ schedules.”  In my opinion this is a poor excuse not to research into the current climate crisis, however if the captions of our Instagram posts included the sustainable approaches to the projects design and the sustainable materials that were used, there would become no excuse not to gain this knowledge and put it into practise. So maybe its time to change our marketing strategy on Instagram to promote one message only, and that is the future of sustainability within interior design, and how it can be accomplished. With only a small tweak to how we use Instagram, interior design could be at the forefront of climate change mitigation.
 “Architectural Digest on Instagram: ‘After Purchasing a Newly Renovated Townhouse in Manhattan, @Nateberkus and @Jeremiahbrent Got to Work Adding Texture, Detail, and…”.” Instagram, April 22, 2020. https://www.instagram.com/p/B_QkdJSpy5k/.
 Image 1: “Architectural Digest (@Archdigest) • Instagram Photos and Videos.” Instagram. Accessed April 23, 2020. https://www.instagram.com/archdigest/?hl=en.
 “Alexander &CO. on Instagram: ‘Introducing Our Latest Project, Woolwich Pier Hotel. Our Team Sought to Uncover and Celebrate the History of This Heritage Listed Building…”.” Instagram, June 21, 2019. https://www.instagram.com/p/By8sX2DghwP/.
 Image 2: “Alexander &CO. (@alexander_andco) • Instagram Photos and Videos.” Instagram. Accessed April 23, 2020. https://www.instagram.com/alexander_andco/?hl=en.
 Chen, Jenn. “Important Instagram Stats You Need to Know for 2020.” Sprout Social, March 24, 2020. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/.
 Hayles, Carolyn S. “Environmentally Sustainable Interior Design: A Snapshot of Current Supply of and Demand for Green, Sustainable or Fair Trade Products for Interior Design Practice.” International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment. Elsevier, April 3, 2015. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212609015000138?fbclid=IwAR1mRMoyoJ3ZIZG-nM9_kuovqFngtkT24fqA8Hxs3qbcoxQm-0KVYG1UsBA.