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WOD in Italy – The Journey Continues

Monday 6th September 2021 heralded the launch of WOD Italy – commencing with a seminar at Flokk’s Milan showroom. The event provided an opportunity for leading players in the design sector to discuss aspirations, developments, and the efforts to introduce greater sustainability within projects and product design.

Following an introduction by Lauren Thompson, WOD’s new ambassador for Italy and Senior A&D Consultant and WELL AP for Flokk, WOD’s founder, Harsha Kotak was delighted to welcome everyone.

With speakers including Elena Caregnato, Principal – Design, Unispace; Francesco Dompieri, Designer, Nichetto Studio; Filippo Taidelli, Architect and Founder, FTA; and Paolo Zanon from fabric manufacturer, Gabriel, Italy, the in-person and online seminar commenced with an overview presentation by UK based environmental ‘champion’, Georgia Elliott-Smith.

“With 20 years’ experience working as an environmental engineer, I have become sick of the word ‘sustainability’!” stated Georgia. “There is just so much ‘green wash’. We must gain a greater understanding, be honest and recognise the challenges.”

“You don’t have to prioritise everything – focus on areas which really resonate with your brand and business. Do you know what you mean when you talk about sustainability? Are you focussed on carbon, pollution, toxicity, circularity or waste reduction?”

“We need to tell the truth about the challenges,” continues Georgia. “Collaborate to find solutions and hold institutions to account.”

“With the UK assuming the COP26 Presidency, in partnership with Italy, this seminar is very timely. We need to share solutions – it’s not about gaining a commercial, competitive edge. We need to work collectively to save the planet.”

All of the speakers supported Georgia’s perspective. “We need to be transparent and honest,” stated Elena Caregnato. “We must include the whole life cycle and develop innovative ideas for end of life.”

Francesco Dompieri described product considerations including the need to minimise waste through reduction in the number of components, use of improved materials, and design for disassembly for recycling and reuse.

The conversation also extended beyond furnishings to discuss energy saving initiatives being introduced by Filippo Taidelli and his team at FTA. He outlined some of the challenges of retrofit projects as well as current projects in the healthcare sector.

Paolo Zanon provided perspective from a fabric manufacturer and the dramatic growth in interest and use of recycled content.

Concluding the discussions, Georgia Elliott-Smith offered an excellent summary of the group’s comments: “Shaming is not helpful but calling out ‘green wash’ is important. We need to collaborate, tell the truth and act now!”

The event was attended by local designers and architects who enjoyed the discussion, networking and the hospitality by the Flokk team.