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TWO-thirds of consumers consider a brand’s environmental policies as a critical factor when purchasing luxury products, according to a recent study*.

The same percentage of buyers would like to see carbon labelling on products as a way of providing greater transparency on the environmental impact of products and materials**.

This means the material world is evolving and designers around the world are actively sourcing high-quality, sustainable and responsibly-sourced materials as they strive to create the luxury products of the future.

These and other conclusions appear in “The Rise of Conscious Design”, a new report issued by Volvo Cars in collaboration with leading trend forecasting company The Future Laboratory.

The publication of the report coincides with Volvo Cars’ announcement that all of its new fully electric models will be completely leather-free.

The newly launched C40 Recharge is the first model to be fully devoid of leather.

The report draws on a wealth of existing research as well as new interviews and insights from thought leaders from a variety of industries, such as Claire Bergkamp, COO of The Textile Exchange and former worldwide sustainability and innovation director for Stella McCartney; Wen Zhou, CEO of 3.1 Phillip Lim; Dr Leonardi Bonnani, founder and CEO of Sourcemap; and Xu Gang, co-founder of Bentu Design.

The conclusions and insights in the report in many ways reflect Volvo Cars’ own vision on the future of materials.

In coming years, Volvo Cars will launch a completely new family of pure electric cars and by 2030 it aims to offer only fully electric cars – all of them free of leather.

As part of its ambitions to go completely leather-free, Volvo Cars is working actively to find high-quality and sustainable sources for many materials currently used in the wider car industry.

“We have a vision of where we need to go in the future, with the first step to ensure we harness sustainable, natural and recycled materials,” said Robin Page, head of design at Volvo Cars.

“The next challenge is to change what we do with these materials, whether that’s making car parts that last forever, re-enter the circular economy or go back into the earth.”

“Conscious design can fundamentally transform our society and it’s integral that brands harness the opportunities on offer,” said Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory.

“Conscious design is showing a way forward and could transform the world in the process.”

By 2025, the company is aiming for 25% of the material in new Volvo cars to consist of recycled and bio-based content, as part of its ambition to be a fully circular business by 2040.

Instead of leather interior options, Volvo Cars will offer its customers alternatives such as high-quality sustainable materials made from bio-based and recycled sources.

For example, Nordico, a new interior material created by Volvo Cars will consist of textiles made from recycled material such as PET bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland and corks recycled from the wine industry (pix) – setting a new standard for premium interior design.

Those materials will make its debut in the next generation of Volvo models.

Volvo Cars will also continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers that are certified to source responsibly, as the company looks to ensure full traceability and animal welfare in its wool supply chain.

*Source: Vogue Business Index, Winter 2020.

**Source: The Carbon Trust, 2020 YouGov Survey.

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