Co Down interior designer’s creations don’t cost the earth

HELEN MCGURK talks to the Andrea Graham about creating new designs from old classics

By Helen McGurk
Friday, 20th May 2022, 3:26 pm
Co Down designer Andrea Graham creates eco-friendly home furnishings
Co Down designer Andrea Graham creates eco-friendly home furnishings

Donaghadee-based interior designer Andrea Graham has launched a unique eco-design service for clients who want to update their homes with bespoke nature-inspired designs and revamp and recycle rather than dump and destroy existing furniture.

She has also introduced a series of wallpaper and fabric designs inspired by Northern Ireland nature.

With the climate crisis dominating daily global headlines, consumer demand means environmental credentials are just as important as style for purchases.

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Andrea Graham is inspired by the beauty of Northern Ireland's nature

So, Andrea, an experienced surface decoration designer, is cleverly combining both with her bespoke new eco-design service, Born Interiors (www.borninteriors.net).

Andrea has created a collection of hand-drawn, photographed and digitally designed, nature-inspired wallpaper collections, soft furnishings, curtains, cushions, sofas and chairs and is transforming clients’ homes to bring a more peaceful, nature-inspired look to spaces.

Offering three initial concepts inspired by feathers collected from a local forest, seaweed foraged from Donaghadee beach and a cloudscape photographed on the Cave Hill, Andrea’s designs are completely unique, bespoke and can transform any room, bringing the great outdoors, in to clients’ homes and commercial premises.

Additionally, rather than wastefully sending stuff to the dump, Andrea is breathing fresh life into furniture, fabrics and soft furnishings by giving the concept a fresh, new face-lift with her new designs.

Already very environmentally conscious, the local designer sees her new service as a way of using her creativity to create beautiful interiors while helping protect the planet.

“I’m working in a way that aligns with my personal values, and I’m responding to an increasing trend from clients who want a beautiful and sustainable environment to live in – both in their homes and for the planet in general.

“I recently worked on a project making emergency sleeping bags from used crisp packets for people living on the streets.

“This experience made me more eco-aware in my professional life.

“I now think differently about waste, especially when you realise how long it takes many materials to break down in landfill.

“It can take up to 80 years for just a crisp packet to decompose fully. So, you can just imagine the environmental impact when we simply dispose of furniture and fabrics because we are bored with the design.”

Andrea is channelling her passion for nature and the environment into her designs and encouraging her clients to re-love their existing furniture by revamping it with a touch of imaginative style.

“I spend a lot of time researching trends and sourcing material with low environmental impact. I consciously try to reuse and recycle furniture and fabrics when I can.

“I can bring my new designs to older pieces, or work with the client to create their own design unique to them.

“This is also an efficient approach because older furniture tends to have been built by craftspeople to last.

“It was created before society adopted a ‘throw away’ culture. It is hard to imagine that modern, flatpack furniture still being stylish and functional in 50 years.”

Andrea works closely with clients to help them see their existing interior assets in new and exciting ways. By reimaging rooms, soft furnishings and furniture with her expert eye, she can revamp and update homes without it costing the earth.

Rather than following the trends dictated by mass production, her designs are unique to each client, even extending to her creating beautiful nature-inspired mural art on walls.

“I’m looking back to a time when quality, individuality and artistic skills were really valued. I’m inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century, but I’m combining that ethos with modern trends and techniques. My work has longevity because I draw inspiration from the natural world. The images, colours and styles I select help to remind my clients of the value and beauty of the world they are respecting through their consumer choices.”

Andrea believes that because she works so closely with her clients to reflect their tastes and personality, she gives them beautiful interiors with longevity.

“My ethos is if you get the design right the first time, you won’t have to change it frequently. Therefore, I work hard to ensure the design aligns closely with my clients’ personal aesthetics and requirements.

“The furniture and fabrics I use are all quality pieces. Many have already lasted someone else’s lifetime and, with a revamp, can continue to be gorgeous, comfortable and useful for decades. I don’t believe you should waste style and quality, whatever era it originates in. By thoughtful reuse, recycling and reviving, I give my clients unique interior results that they can love and live with forever.”