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Sustainable interior design with Space Concepts

Earth’s natural resources aren’t inexhaustible. That’s why sustainable development is necessary, even in interior design. As a member of the ‘Green Planet Architects’ network, Noteboom Space Concepts knows a thing or two about the subject. They always use and advise ecological materials. For example, they prefer bamboo over ramin wood from Indonesia for several “green” reasons. When it comes to lighting, they choose LED lighting as the most energy efficient solution.

Noteboom Space Concepts in brief

Noteboom Space ConceptsNoteboom Space Concepts is a Dutch interior consultancy ran by Rob Noteboom. Being the son of an architect, design fever struck him at young age.

Rob Noteboom became an interior architect himself, following his education at the M.T.S. for Furnishing- and Wood Companies in Rotterdam (HMCollege). He got his degree in Technical Interior Design, Furniture Fabrication and Home Decoration.

Furthermore he combined his work as an interior architect with an evening course Architectonic Design at the Institute of Arts (HKU).

Nowadays, Rob already has over 30 years of experience as an interior architect and he guides his clients through the entire proces, from design to completion. Space Concepts’ action radius is very wide, going from interior and living spaces over offices and care facilities to rebuilding houses. Translating people’s ideas into creative and functional designs, which fulfill al their wishes is the main goal. Noteboom Space Concepts is more than glad to help you, especially when it comes to eco-design.

The interview

dmLights: You’re a member of the ‘Green Planet Architects’ network, which indicates that sustainability is high on your list of priorities. Could you give us some specific examples of how this reflects in your previous projects.

Space Concepts: In one of our projects for the Ministry of General Affairs in The Hague, we chose natural products and basic colours as our starting point. The library lounge is an inside to outside experience, so we went for a center point with a peaceful appeal.

Natural wooden floor parts, colourful seats by COR as cheerful counterparts and a wooden library closet by Interlübke, all producers with an ecological vison.

Ministerie van Algemene Zaken in Den Haag Noteboom Space Concepts

The library lounge at the Ministry of General Affaires in The Hague.

Ministerie van Algemene Zaken in Den Haag Noteboom Space Concepts

Space Concepts used colourful sofas to create a beautiful contrast with the natural wooden floors.

dmLights: Do you avoid certain materials for ecological reasons? Which alternatives do you advise?

Space Concepts: We avoid certain woods, like ramin wood from Indonesia. The logging of this wood is a threat for nature reserves and animal species such as the Orangutans and the Sumatran Tiger.

We like to use bamboo as an alternative. A piece of land with bamboo, on average, takes up 5 times more CO² and produces 35% more oxygen than a similar piece of forest.

Bamboo wood has the property of being very hard and it’s suited for interior and exterior usage. It’s easily processed and reacts well with lacquer or oil. That’s also the reason it always looks different. Furthermore, it’s highly fire resistant, solid with little shrinkage.

Bamboe hout

Bamboo is easily processed, reacts well with lacquer or oil and is highly fire resistant.

dmLights: You often mention projects with a ‘circular experience’. What does that mean exactly?

Space Concepts: We guarantee a creative flexibility towards functionality and a circular experience.

Space Concepts likes to think along when it comes to eco-design. Eco-design is an evolution which connects to the everyday needs of the new ways of working and the new vision of the client and economy. From a linear vision we strive for a sustainable interior policy; creating a balanced living environment  socially, ecologically and economically. Space Concepts likes to translate the living and working desires into ecological ideas, because sustainable design is an investment in yourself and your space.

Cradle2cradle is a kind of product development we endorse greatly. However, we don’t only help customers who share this mindset. We’re flexible in our opinion, but we’ll always stay true to our choices and we’ll try to make it clear to our clients that sustainability will lead to a better environment and a better future.

Flos Arco Noteboom Space Concepts

dmLights: Ecological and energy saving alternatives are also available in lighting. How do you choose?

Space Concepts: When possible, we prefer to work with LED lighting, because:

  • It uses less energy.
  • It has a long life expectancy (up to 50.000 hours). This way the replacement frequency and the costs that come with it decrease.
  • LED tolerates low temperatures very well (fluorescent light for example has the highest light output when it’s warmer than the room temperature).
  • It can be easily dimmed and switched on/off frequently, so even more energy can be saved.
  • It’s available in different light colours. Especially the coloured varieties are very efficient.

dmLights: Choosing the right paint colour or wallpaper sure is a hard job nowadays, since the options are sheer endless. Could you give us some pointers, to facilitate our quest? What do we have to keep in mind?

Space Concepts: When it comes to choosing an environmentally friendly product, we advise to use EcoSure labeled brands. Sikkens is such a brand, this brand’s products leave a minimal carbon footprint. These products offer the perfect balance between a minimal impact on the environment and a maximal lifetime.

Another advice we can give is to look for the EU Ecolabel, these products meet all European environmental requirements.

The same goes for wallpaper. Look for environmentally friendly wallpaper that’s printed on paper coming from sustainably managed forests (100% FSC) and using (non-acidic) ink on a water base.

Some brands even use recycled rainwater for the production and an advanced rainwater system to reduce harmful wastewater.

Colourwise it’s important to keep in mind which mood the client is looking for. You have to look at the daylight, the interior and other elements to define a complementary colour setting.

Ecolabels FSC EU Ecolabel

If you want to decorate ecologically, make sure to look for the FSC and EU-Ecolabel.

dmLights: Let’s say I’m looking for an eyecatcher for my living room, a pendant light over my dining table, which advice can you give me?

Space Concepts: The Big Bang by Foscarini is a beautiful eyecatcher, which is very serene at the same time. Moreover, it can be integrated in various interiors, residential and commercial.

Our believe is that lighting is very determinig for the right look and atmosphere of an interior, but at the same time it has to blend in as a whole. A refined, yet showy eyecatcher to tie the room together always works better than one that disrupts the picture.

Foscarini Big Bang

“The Foscarini Big Bang is a beautiful, yet serene eyecatcher.”

dmLights: Do you have favourite fixtures or designer lamps yourselves?

Space Concepts: Yes, for example Prandina, Foscarini, Ingo Maurer, BELUX and DeltaLight to name a few.

dmLights: Did you ever come across interior blunders? In other words are there absolute “DON’Ts” when it comes to interior design?

Space Concepts: We didn’t really encounter blunders. However, we do advise future clients to consult experienced interior specialists and architects, preferably with a warm heart for the environment.


Sustainable interior design is mainly focused on material selection. Ecolabels such as the FSC and EU Ecolabel can be a useful guideline. If possible, interior consultancy Space Concepts chooses ecological alternatives like bamboo instead Indonesian ramin wood and LED lighting instead of traditional light sources. Space Concepts also mentions the Foscarini Big Bang as a possible eyecatcher for the dining room.

How important is sustainable interior design to you? Do you intentionally search for ecologically sound products or are other factors more important?

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