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Thursday, 03 September 2020
FSC ANZ caught up with spatial designer Andrea Cassin

forward interior

Creator of Forward Interior

This month FSC ANZ caught up with Andrea Cassin, creator of Forward Interior. Forward Interior is a database of environmentally sustainable materials to help inform and guide the work of interior designers from all sectors. The database is a remarkable resource that meets the need felt by interior designers for a consolidated list of environmentally certified materials. Originally hailing from New Zealand, Ms Cassin has an innate sensitivity to respect the earth, which evolved into a passion for environmentally sustainable approaches to construction, particularly on a large scale.

“Sustainability and integrity to materials are some of the biggest drivers in my work,” said Ms Cassin.

“My research into sustainability began at university, where I was intrigued by how humans build a higher sense of place to local, raw, and natural built environments - a ‘true’ habitat. When I graduated, the Forward Interior database came about after continuously working on Green Star developments as an Interior Designer. It quickly became apparent to me there was a strong desire among our stakeholders, who are mostly interior designers, for a consolidated list of environmentally certified materials.”

The database was originally created for interior designers who continue to make up a large proportion of the users. However, there has been an increasing interest from first homebuyers and renovators looking to alter their homes responsibly.

“This is a fantastic evolution from purely professional designers and shows that the positive shifts within the industry towards sustainability are being filtered into wider sectors of building. These new users are searching for guidance to upgrade their homes using reliable and local sources without the need for an interior designer or architect. The Forward Interior supplier library allows them that freedom.”

This freedom includes an easier way to source FSC certified materials for any construction project. FSC certified products are frequently searched for items within the database. “With regards to the FSC, furniture is the most popular search. This makes sense to me, in my experience these items have been the most difficult to search for in terms of Environmental certifications.

“While often underestimated, there are many elements that go into deciding which pieces to use; including fabric, timber, durability, lead times, locality, price points, and not to mention design aesthetics, for each particular project. Getting all of these aspects to line up is an incredibly time consuming task, so it is no wonder users are searching for a succinct list of items to choose from.”

This succinct list of resources helps guide the concept of a sustainability led recovery, a phrase gaining more meaning and momentum in direct response to the economic effect COVID-19 has had on our economy and the environment. Ms Cassin like many of us is excited by the idea that we can choose a sustainable path out of this crisis.

“The prospect of injecting support into the future of Australia’s sustainable building industry and upgrading existing ones in a post Covid-19 world is incredibly exciting and potentially a very needed push towards a substantial environmental investment, “ said Ms Cassin.

“I would anticipate this could drive our green building standards even higher, particularly around energy efficiency and cradle-to-cradle material processes. The pandemic has made abundantly clear the advantages of sourcing local materials, including timber and timber products. I believe looking forward, I will be more even more inclined to specify Australian businesses and manufacturers with environmental certifications. I would even go as far as to keep the resources of a project within Victoria where appropriate. As an industry, this move would simultaneously stimulate job growth while building a stronger infrastructure around cutting emissions in all aspects of design including appliances, LED lighting solar energy and of course materials.”

Maintaining an evolving list of suppliers committed to providing a well-rounded sustainable product will play an integral part in the stimulation of Australian jobs.

“This list is arguably one of the strongest segments of the sustainable building industry. Notably, with the work being done by FSC Australia, incorporating a holistic approach to the life cycle of timber and the effect that it has on the entire ecosystem. The local considerations that are required for an FSC certification are a great precedent for other industries, including workers rights, Indigenous People’s rights and respect, community engagement and the long term benefits for all involved. With such high standards and sensitivities to surrounding communities of people in conjunction with environmental management is a true step towards a comprehensive, sustainable building industry.”

FSC ANZ congratulates Ms Cassin on her remarkable database. We look forward to seeing the role she will play in our future.

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