Creating an ecological home
My journey with Ecosophy began a couple of years ago when I was thinking of making a career change into interior design. I've always loved decoration, but after learning about the environmental impact of the materials used in home decor, I became uncomfortable with the idea of pursuing a career in this area. I didn't want to become a designer who created beautiful homes using products that created ugliness elsewhere.
After taking some design courses and researching the market, I quickly realised that there were very few resources available to designers who wanted to use sustainable materials. This got me thinking about the possibility of setting up a homeware brand to fill this gap.
I wanted this brand to not only sell sustainable products, but also to promote new ways of thinking about the home. I wanted to move away from the traditional image of the home as a place of retreat and withdrawal – a place where we escape the world, and to promote it instead as a place of reconnection and renewal, where we can embrace the world in a healthy and positive way. In doing so, I wanted to challenge the idea that a sustainable lifestyle is one that is simple and rooted in place. I know these are important elements of sustainability and they conjure up an image that is very appealing to me, but they also imply a withdrawal from the world and its complexities, something which, in this age of climate change, we cannot afford.
My inspiration came from my background in anthropology and my study of decorative traditions around the world. In the UK, decoration has traditionally been seen as a form of adornment - something we do to make our homes more beautiful. In many cultures, however, decoration has a spiritual significance and is used to express relationships to the wider society and cosmos. Cross-culturally, clothing, skin and spatial thresholds, such as the doorway to a house, are some of the most common areas that people decorate. All of these are spaces where the individual meets the outer environment, and in many societies, these spaces are considered to be spiritually potent. Decoration, in these cases, is seen as a tool of magical power and is utilised not so much to make a space pretty, but to harness its spiritual energy and establish connections between different realms.
From an ecological perspective, the use of decoration to symbolise connections makes a lot of sense. Ecology is the branch of biology that studies the relationships among organisms and their environment. From an ecological perspective, everything in life is connected - we are all part of webs of relationships that span the micro level, e.g. cells, to the planetary level, e.g. biospheres. From this perspective, living sustainably is less about localism and more about recognising the ways in which we are connected to the wider world, and then harnessing those connections - be they local or global - wisely.
The complex nature of our society means that living with ecological awareness is a difficult challenge. My aim with Ecosophy is to help people develop that awareness through decoration and to show that by choosing products for our homes that have been produced sustainably and ethically, we can turn our homes into places not of withdrawal, but of renewal – for ourselves and our world.