Sustainability: Leading by design

By Matt Balmer
February 4, 2018

Josh Ward, co-founder of lighting brand, Tala, discusses the challenges and processes of running a carbon-neutral business.

by Jo Weaden
January 2018

‘Conservation through beauty’ is Tala’s guiding promise and core to its newest product, Voronoi III, which launched regionally at two European shows – Maison & Objet and imm Cologne – last month. The young British lighting brand describes it as the world’s largest sculptural bulb, drawing on biomimicry (inspired by mathematical patterns found within forest canopies) and intersecting the constraints of hand-blown glass with LED technology. 

“When developing new products, we begin with the assumption that our products are low energy, built to last, and use the best components”, comments Josh Ward. As co-founder, he is responsible for overseeing the design, brand, and sustainability departments. This approach has been applied to Tala’s latest product, the Voronoi III, which benefits from the company’s “uncompromising focus on both design and sustainability”. Although these may seem like constraints, Ward describes how they can lead “into interesting areas of research and development”. The Voronoi III is an example of this R&D process, featuring a custom-built LED filament that curves around a central column.

Sustainability is central to Tala’s values. “For us, it’s about waking up to the facts and demonstrating the role businesses can play in changing the world for the better”, Ward says. However, creating sustainable products can raise its own issues, such as the question of how far a design can truly be sustainable. “Another challenge we continue to face is that, although we endeavour to create lighting products that are the most sustainable of their kind, we are essentially still contributing to the greenhouse effect by the very fact we manufacture goods,” Ward explains. Tala has attempted to combat the company’s carbon footprint by introducing the Ten Trees programme: the company plants 10 trees for every 200 products sold. As a result, it achieved a carbon-neutral state.

“We aim to inspire and educate our customers about the cost savings and environmental benefits of purchasing a Tala product,” says Ward. Endorsements, such as certification programmes, and partnerships with charities and non-profit organisations, are some of the approaches that the company adopts to communicate its eco credentials to the customer. These also help inform and authenticate Tala’s sustainable practices. “Technical certifications are certainly important to us. For example, we source FSC-grade wood and recycled brass for our Fixtures Collection,” comments Ward. The company partners with The Heart of England Forest and the National Forest Foundation as part of its Ten Trees programme.
Materials and technologies affect a product’s overall carbon. As such, Ward explains, Tala champions “materials and techniques that have minimal impact on the environment and strive for a transparent, carbon-neutral supply chain”.