Re-used materials is the future

Liv Interior is a German interior-company with focus on textiles. Behind the company stands her founder and designer Tina Mirza, and she works with a yet small field of the interior market – the sustainable part. The product line from Liv Interior mainly consists of sustainable products made from re-used materials or organic grown cotton.

Sustainability has been a hot topic for a while and everyone seems to talk about it. Whether we need to wear sustainable fashion, eat organic and preferably local, travel less or more with public transportation. It is something we need to think about and show how we are taking action in terms of being sustainable.

Sustainability is here to stay, there is no doubt about it. The companies take a stand and help to show the way by increasing consumption and integrating sustainability into their cycle.

Sustainability is a big subject, and there are a lot of parameters, which can be adjusted in terms of promoting the sustainable process of the producing companies. It could be the use of re-used or natural materials or even the use of residual materials. It could also be the production, which is sustainable and eco-friendly without harmful chemicals. There are many paths to choose and it can be difficult to figure out why or how it should be done. I have met Tina Mirza from Liv Interior to learn a little more about why a smaller interior business wants to be sustainable.

“I’m actually a graphic designer. I had my own company, where I displayed products, which I found beautiful, in a window that was facing the street. Then stylists started coming and borrowing the products. And it took off quickly and was pretty exciting”, tells Tina Mirza about what would be the start of the company Liv Interior.

“My first own products were rugs, which I presented in 2003. Sustainability and organic produce was not really a thing at that time, so the rugs were then made from regular cotton. It was handmade rugs from India which I have had made in several different sizes – and they quickly became popular“, says Tina.

After an ended corporation with a Danish interior company, which Tina represented in Germany, it was in the year of 2009 time to give more focus on to creating products by her own – and Liv Interior started up with their first, own collection.

A sustainable responsibility

After a couple of years in 2012, Tina and her husband Asad started looking for a way that they could put more thought and effort into integrating sustainability into both their production and materials. They wanted to be a part of sending a message, that we can support a sustainable culture, by putting more focus on alternative materials and ethical work conditions.

“There was an American out in India, who had figured out how you could use recycled PET-bottles and extract that into making textiles. We spoke back and forth with our supplier about the possibility of us doing that”.  Liv Interior has gotten their products produced from re-used materials or organic materials since then.

“Today, we only use recycled materials or organic grown cotton in our products. However, we still have some of our old products, which are made from regular cotton in stock. But we are working towards that all of our products and everything in stock is sustainable and made from either re-used or organic materials. “

As important as the fact materials, is the actual production of the products. There is a focus on great crafts and traditional techniques in the production.

“Our products are all made via traditional techniques to secure that the cultural heritage survives. This way the tradition can be passed on to the next generation. That means, that all of our lovely products are handmade – which makes every product unique”, says Tina, who explains that the only place it has been possible to find this craft to a degree that can also be scaled up as needed and in relation to large orders is in India. “We have looked for this type of production in Europe and it is possible if it is only about a few unique things, but not if you need to get a production up and running. In India we can get hand-woven rugs produced even if we get an urgent order. We have an on-going hotel project in Switzerland where they need 395 rugs, which we can easily get produced by our supplier in India besides our other production”, Tina explains about their supplier in India.

Regarding the textile products, they are being designed digitally at Liv Interior's office in Hamburg and then send to the suppliers in the East. Tina travels to the factories about four times a year to view the samples and to finish the products with the local weavers. “There might also be something in our designs, which is not possible to make in real life, so sometimes it is easier to discuss that face-to-face. You often come up with some completely different ideas when you are out there working with them” says Tina.

The rising focus on sustainability, ethical production and alternative materials ensure that the development on the area is big. Residual products from another company, for example in the wood industry or the plastic industry, is used to a greater extent so the proportion of waste is also less. In addition, there is a lot of research into finding alternative materials, which is created from for example plant fibres or otherwise extracted from the plant and animal kingdom or, as a whole, can be produced without the use of quite a few resources or only natural resources that do not overwhelm the environment. As a sustainable company that has made it an essential part of its way of life, Tina also researches and seeks new knowledge about alternative materials and innovated production.

“We have started using re-used clothes. It is actually clothes from ICRC-containers that are being re-used as textiles. The fabric breaks down and turns into fibres again, in a mixture of cotton and other qualities. It is really durable and the new products that are made of these fibres, like rugs, can also get washed in the washing machine – so there are several advantages by using re-used clothes in the production”, Tina explains and continues:

“There is also new fibres like banana-fibres and other fibres. But they are very expensive, that we have a hard time using them even though we would love to”, Tina explains, and is at the same time optimistic that it will become more accessible over time.

A social responsibility

Liv Interior has a close collaboration with GoodWeave, which is a network of non-profit organisations dedicated to end illegal child labor in the textile industry.

“GoodWeave is monitoring all of our suppliers and factories. They are checking the work conditions, the work hours and make sure that there is no child labor involved in the processes. It is a good organisation, which we are thrilled to be working with. I actually meet them often when I am visiting the factories. They are also in charge of opening schools for the workers and their families and are currently working with a new project regarding wastewater”, Tina explains. It is clear that there is a constant focus on improvements for the locals, their work environment and securing and protecting the cultural heritage, which is in the handwork of the locals.

Even though Liv Interior started as a primarily textile brand, their current assortment contains several other interior products, such as ceramics and other objects. But common to all the products is the use of sustainable, recycled or natural materials, and at the same time an important focus on responsible production with ethical working conditions.

Sustainability can be a bit of a jungle – where to start and does it even matters with sustainable materials if you don’t transport your products sustainable? It can be difficult to make sense in the debate, and maybe you don't want to have to aim for something with so many different interests at all. But it is important to remember that even a little thing can make a big difference. If everyone does even the smallest things it could change a lot. It is at least better than doing nothing at all. So start somewhere, make an effort. We can all get far even with small funds and help ourselves and others taking better care of our earth and our future.