What makes a sustainable supply chain? A designer has to be sure of every element, from the sourcing of materials to the manufacturing methods. And that goes not only for the assembly of the final product. Even the transportation of each component should be taken into consideration. Importing components across the world by air has a high carbon footprint while locally sourced components delivered by land or sea has a lower footprint.

Dodds and Schute tackled this enormous scope when they decided to audit their entire supply chain in order to cut through the ‘greenwash’ and deliver on their motto of Design Responsibly Sourced. The task, says Co-Founder Stefan Dodds on Decorex conference session Sustainable Sourcing for Interior Designers, took around two years. And it uncovered some surprising results.

According to Dodds, Italian products stood out among their peers as the most sustainably produced. Italian design places high value on locally bought and locally made products and materials. This cuts the carbon footprint of materials, components and manufacturing processes. It ensures the Italian supply chain is one of the world’s most sustainable.

Italian Sustainability Practices

Although, we shouldn’t consider this as all ‘accidental’ eco-consciousness. Italy is currently one of the EU’s best-performing countries in relation to the EU’s targets for decreasing their emissions. In 2019 Italy’s Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti announced that they would be the first country in the world to make sustainability a compulsory subject for school children. It’s clear that sustainability is embedded into Italian culture.

Cruise Ship Interiors Expo America

One only has to take a look at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo America’s exhibitor list to see these sustainable views in action. Furniture company Accento Srl list their materials selection under the heading ‘Proudly Made In Italy’. Textile manufacturers Brand Milano Tessuti only work with carefully selected Italian fabric producers. Single source furniture manufacturers Colber International claim ‘Made in Italy’ as one of the core pillars of their company’s ethos. Meanwhile one of the first weavers to gain an IMO certification, Testori Manifattura, have been supplying cruise lines since 1930 and producing Italian-made fabrics since 1904.

Radici Marine find that quality is indivisible not only from the Made in Italy label but from their base in Seriana Valley, in the same factory they started in in 1950. In 2018 Radici Marine tracked their sustainability efforts through a green report. This including reducing water usage, their commitment to sourcing materials and personnel from the local community. Plus, it highlights their active involvement with circular economy theorists Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

A sustainable supply chain is one of the most pressing priorities of many cruise interior designers. Any designer who wants to find sustainable products or supplier who wants to learn how to improve their offerings would do well to look to Italy.