London Jeweller Takes all or Nothing Approach to Sustainability

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
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Lila's store is completely upcycled
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A London jeweller has aptly used reclaimed materials to fit out the store in which it sells second-hand jewellery.

In a bid to educate the public on ethical gemstone and metals mining, Lila’s jewellery store in East Dulwich decided that an eco-friendly store was the perfect backdrop for educational sessions in addition to serving as a shop.

The family-owned business is renowned for supporting responsible mining.

The 26 square metre space by Four-by-Two design

The 26 square metre space, designed by Four-by-Two design

“The gemstone market has long been overshadowed by the poor mining conditions and exploitation of its workers and to address this, the jewellery trade has lately begun to focus on fairer conditions for extracting precious stones,” owner Catalina Rosca told Retail Design World. “Yet those brands actively involved in a fairer trade are top class companies with often-prohibitive prices. The majority of the high-street jewellers are pretty vague as to the origin of their stones, so we believe that buying new jewellery puts an even greater pressure on the already turbulent mining conditions.”

“By re-designing and re-conditioning pre-owned jewellery, Lila’s is giving back to the market and at the same time, relieving some of that pressure.”

The 26 square metre retail space was designed by Four-by-Two, which has worked on other retail projects including Harvey Nichols, LK Bennett and Phase Eight.

Upcyled Mining Cart from Transylvania

Upcyled mining cart from Transylvania

Four-by-Two used only reclaimed materials, sourcing 1950s furniture in tones that complement the store’s rustic look. Old factory lamps are suspended from the ceiling while a series of railway sleepers were upcycled to form point of sale stands.

The walls are lined with bespoke wallpaper that features with an illustration of a diamond solitaire drawn by one of the store’s designers. The drawing was then scanned and printed on the textured wall paper.

At the heart of the store is an old gold mining cart that was sourced from Transylvania, a region renowned for its precious metals.

Recycled parquet flooring decorates the walls while a panning table, a cutting and polishing station and a workbench made of an old architects draft desk adorn the store.

Bespoke Wallpaper features an internal designer's diamond illustration

Bespoke wallpaper features an internal designer’s diamond illustration

Even Lila’s marketing materials were produced using recycled paper with all additional materials carefully sourced to ensure they were environmentally friendly.

“We set out to create a store that would be a little gemstone in the local community,” said Liz Cole, senior designer at Four-by-Two. “It was important to hero the products and by placing a focus on education, it’s not just about selling to the public, it is about creating an immersive environment that helps them to understand more about the unique journey of the jewellery.”

Lila’s has taken a full-scale approach to reducing its carbon footprint through its store design and product, and even offers an educational service to teach the public of its ethical endeavours.

Polish design firm Hornowski Design also took a holistic approach to sustainability, applying bales of straw to the wall interiors of a 19 square metre retail boutique for ecological cosmetics brand Pieknalia in Krakow.

1960's suspended factory lamps

1960s suspended factory lamps

Pieknalia’s initial design brief highlighted the importance of having the store’s interiors reflect the green nature of the cosmetics while being aesthetically unique. A total of 108 bales of straw were applied to the walls and storage and shelving were embedded within the bales in a cutout fashion. LED lights were then installed to direct focus to certain product areas.

108 Straw Bales Were Applied To the Walls of the 19 Square Metre Store

108 Straw Bales Were Applied To the Walls of the 19 Square Metre Store

A report from Strategic Sustainability Consulting completed a paper entitled, Sustainability Through The Value Chain (Diana B. Wilkinson, 2013) that while “many major retail stores have focused on the green aspects of their supply chains, but they have not placed as much emphasis on greening all aspects of their value chain, from the supplier all the way to post-consumer waste.”

“Small businesses should not miss out on these benefits because of a misunderstanding of financial implications involved in the greening process. While there are definitely associated costs with greening the back end of the value chain, companies must also understand the benefits that arise from engaging in such a strategy,” the report stated.

These benefits are generally recognised as both ethical and financial, with consumers influenced by businesses who demonstrate a strong environmental commitment while businesses also enjoy reduced costs from increased efficiency over the years.

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