Yorkshire-based sustainable interior design firm hopes to drive industry change following award win

A Dewsbury-based interior design firm has said it hopes to drive change in the industry after winning Manufacturing StartUp of the Year at the StartUp Awards for North East, Yorkshire and the Humber.

Bee Brand Designs, which specialises in sustainable interior design, first launched during the pandemic on Etsy, before later switching to focus on business-to-business jobs last year.

The firm works with groups including Leeds Wood Recycling CIC to source reclaimed materials to use in its designs.

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Ashleigh Barnes, who founded the business with her partner, said: “Everything we do is to try and be more environmentally positive.

Ashleigh Barnes, founder of Bee Brand Designs.Ashleigh Barnes, founder of Bee Brand Designs.
Ashleigh Barnes, founder of Bee Brand Designs.

“We use non-toxic, water-based finishes that are environmentally friendly.

"We also source from ethical suppliers, so even our lighting, for example, would come from a company that only sources ethically.

“We are different, we’re not just another bespoke furniture manufacturer, we really do care about the designs we put out there and the work that we do. We want to make a change in the industry.”

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Most recently, the firm completed the interior design for Leeds-based Living Walls UK, after the business opened a new office at Leeds Dock.

Ms Barnes noted that the firm is now actively looking to work with more businesses after its recent award win.

She said: “We want to be national - the UK’s biggest company for bespoke interiors that are sustainable, so we’re pushing towards that goal in the next five years.”

As well as winning their recent award, Bee Brand Designs was a finalist in the Green StartUp of the Year category at the StartUp Awards for North East, Yorkshire and the Humber.

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Ms Barnes previously worked as a designer at a staging company for live events.

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff in live events, lots of shows and construction, and a lot of material is wasted in that,” she said.

“I come from a really resourceful background where you make do and mend and waste not want not.

“I'm creative as well, so if I can find some scrap pieces of wood I will end up making something decorative for the house, and that's how it started.”

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Ms Barnes’s desire to change the interior design industry also fits with her view that wider societal change is needed.

She said: “Since the 1920s we’ve been absorbing and using and disposing of products, and it's getting to the point now where the scale is going to tip. There's a lot of waste not being dealt with which is really detrimental to the environment.

“So reusing is the way we have to go. If we don't pick these things up right now and take action, it's going to be too late.”