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11 December 2023

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Jason Platten, head of design at UK hotel bedroom furniture supplier Curtis Furniture, gives a manufacturer’s perspective on delivering sustainable hotel interiors.

Specifying sustainable materials for the luxury interiors of hotel design projects may seem like a contradiction, but in reality, they can complement each other beautifully, and bring a third focus to “Form follows function”. 

Society as a whole has started to question seriously our footprint on the planet, with interest peaking during Covid, probably due to people spending more time at home and experiencing a re-connect with the natural world. 

Looking At Longevity

This has spilled over into the bespoke hotel furniture industry, with an increase in recycled and mixed materials on recent projects. Even the hotel themes are becoming ‘greener’ in design, with hotel interiors being inspired by the natural world, bringing the outside in.

This comes from a number of sources, including contractors and clients, but the most influential are the architects and interior designers who are the true visionaries when designing a space. They now need to consider selection of materials, their embodied energy, recycling and re-use potential, and to design for longevity.  

Organic Design Narratives

Take Mayfair’s latest luxury venue, the 1 Hotel, which takes the organic design narrative to a whole new level, with the use of a 200-year-old tree trunk for the reception desk, York stone and living moss walls, Welsh Slate for the vanity units, timber flooring, and oversized cork chandeliers.

Also in London, Curtis supplied Locke’s first West London aparthotel with more than 100 fully fitted kitchenettes in 15 design types and five different sizes. Here the carpets and bedheads use 100% recycled plastics and can be recycled if disposed of, while the heavy recycled-cotton claret curtains track around the walls, separating the bed and kitchen areas when needed. 

Although Curtis is not commonly asked about its products’ sustainability credentials (the company meets FSC accreditation for virtually all of its projects, whether required to or not), this is expected to become more frequent due to the current worldwide drive on all things green.

Certainly, over the last couple of years, there has been an increased requirement in sustainably resourced materials within the hotel industry. Contractors, architects and hoteliers are more conscious of where their materials come from, and they are specifying ‘greener’ materials from the start.

Green Engineering

Curtis has long value engineered its hotel bedroom furniture from the start for the client but now, during the design process, the company ensures it is also crafted to get optimal usage from the raw materials, reducing any waste. Any off cuts that are too small to use get chipped up and collected for agricultural use, and the company is exploring installing a biomass boiler so it can utilise this waste in-house to heat the factory.

Once more of a political or CSR trend, sustainability is now more basic hygiene, and certain design trends simplify its incorporation into luxury hotel interiors. Rustic, minimalist Scandinavian and industrial aesthetics lend themselves especially to the use of sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood for furniture, flooring or shelving, jute for rugs, and recycled metal for suspended ceiling features and room dividers. 

Fashion Fickles

Another trend, of guests wanting to spend more time in their rooms, is not only requiring a softer, more relaxed environment, but also products that stand the test of time. Curtis has had a number of clients who return 10 years after furnishing their hotel requesting a refurb due to a change in fashion, not down to failed product.

And while 80% of Curtis product is timber based (much of it utilises a chip board core produced from recycled materials) this manufacturer would embrace using other materials like cork and bamboo if they were specified.

Sustainability and luxury do not have to be mutually exclusive. By incorporating sustainable materials into luxury interior design projects, designers can create beautiful, high-end spaces that are both stylish and environmentally responsible.


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