mirror reflecting the ocean

February 20th, 2024

Change that leads to a more circular and less environmentally impactful industry.

In this article, we’ll be discussing:

  • Why brands must consider sustainability in their products, process and company
  • What we’re doing to make a difference
  • Our sustainable designs

Why it’s important?

With sea levels reaching record highs and regions experiencing the longest droughts they’ve ever seen, among other effects; it is evident that there are concerns for the future of the planet. Sustainability has, and will, remain a pressing topic and the focus on how industries, and more specifically brands, are going to be more sustainable will become more prevalent. This concern has become of high importance for younger generations, more so than generations before them. These generations are more interested and involved in topics such as sustainability and circularity which has allowed them to develop a credible voice in discussions surrounding sustainability – leading them to take serious action towards a greener future.

So, brands: if your values do not align with those of your consumer, this could be the difference between whether a customer invests in your brand or not. While speaking on sustainability, we cannot ignore the huge amounts of greenwashing that have surfaced recently. This is a hot topic for several industries, but for all the wrong reasons. Greenwashing refers to the deceptive practice of conveying false information about the environmental practices of a products, services, and/or a company. The sheer amount of greenwashing undermines the genuine efforts towards sustainability and misleads consumer who are trying to make environmentally responsible choices. So, when brands are making sustainable statements or claims, they must be fully transparent as to what extent they are sustainable. Brands don’t need to suddenly reinvent their strategy but making small positive changes can make a big difference.

[Image Credit: Medium]

Our Green Manifesto

Our vision is to be part of a movement that leads change towards a more circular and less environmentally impactful industry, and we are working to kickstart changes across both our own operations and within the wider industry. Taking a meaningful stance to tackle the challenge our planet is facing requires the courage to take bold actions. These include making mindful design choices, considering material lifespan, reconsidering waste, and thinking more local.

Sustainable practice should be the default choice going forward, and as shown in some of our recent projects, it does not have to be an aesthetic compromise anymore. We’ve always believed that great design should – and can – be available to all. From our beginnings, our role has always been to provide the best support to our clients with an approachable face and a can-do attitude. Today this means being sustainable; it’s the only way that we can continue to make great design and great experiences available to many people for the future in years to come.

Sustainability Creds

We are committed to positively changing our business through our design and operational processes and considering our business’ impact on employees, clients, and the environment. We are incredibly proud of the accreditations we have achieved as they are a recognition of our commitment to positive change. We currently hold five accreditations that demonstrate our sustainable practices throughout D4R, from the materials we use to the people we employ. These accreditations include:

  • EcoVadis
  • Safe Contractor
  • SME Climate Hub
  • FSC®
  • ISO9001

[Image Credit: Forest Stewardship Council]

How to be sustainable in retail?

Retail design solutions can be sustainable in varying ways, whether that be through material choice, design processes or even by considering the full life cycle of a retail design…


MAC Cosmetics launched a conspicuous campaign in Selfridges’ trio of revered department stores: Selfridges Birmingham, Selfridges Trafford Centre, and Selfridges London.

The client wanted to provide an immersive pop-up experience where shoppers could explore its products, have consultations with MAC agents, and enjoy a selfie moment – all whilst ensuring the project incorporated elements of sustainability.

[Photography: Michal Podrucki]

Of course, very few things these days are made without consideration to their impact on the environment, and with MAC’s pop-ups going into Selfridges – a retailer that has been campaigning for our planet via its Planet Earth campaign – you bet we considered the pop-up’s environmental impact in our designs. We replaced typical plastic-containing artificial flowers with paper alternatives for better recyclability. This also gave the display and visual merchandising a more intricate aesthetic and depth of detail. What’s more, staggering installation dates for the pop-ups ensured that the fixtures could be repurposed between installations and reused.

Showcasing an immersive sensory experience, this beauty pop-up brought the Botanic Panic product collection to life with a theatrical display. Orchestrated scent cues were added to the customer journey via hidden Jo Malone scented fuse beads to give customers a more sensual experience whilst the addition of a play table gave customers the opportunity to truly get to know the brand and its products.

[Photography: Michal Podrucki]


Based on our in-depth insight, we set out to curate a design strategy for adidas which contributed to ensuring that over 95% of the materials used in its retail fixtures were sustainable. The chosen materials included only those which had a low environmental impact and the ability to be repurposed whilst also conforming to environmentally-friendly production methods. It was also vital that the materials were fit for purpose and, of course, met the safety standards of the popular sports retailer.

We set out to incorporate materials such as cork, eco-board, and sustainable inks, among others, into the design rationale, as well as recycled ocean plastics as per adidas’ commitment to ensuring that none of its products contain virgin plastics from 2024 onwards. This initiative is part of the brand’s wider End Plastic Waste campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the damage that we are doing to our oceans via our single-use plastic deposits.

As we embarked on this exciting project, the D4R team embraced its sustainable direction throughout the stages – from curating branding and digital content in the design studio to technically developing full engineering packs for accurate production and managing the assembly collation and execution of all hardware articles within the Sports Direct re-fit programme.

[Photography: Michal Podrucki]


As a retail design agency, we are constantly designing for our clients, providing innovative designs for global brands and retailers across a variety of industries. However, last year’s retail exhibition, Euroshop, presented us with the opportunity to design a physical space entirely for ourselves that reflected our personality, creative capabilities, and ethos here at D4R.

As an agency with unique industry insight, we are always looking for what’s next, embracing new trends and influences within the industry, but we also recognise the importance of sustainable retail design.

Our beautifully crafted design concept featured a bold and colourful lenticular façade, contrasted by a minimalist black and white interior, complete with striking typography, and a Zoetrope to encourage the crowds to venture inside…but what wasn’t evident to the eye was our plans for the design box.

Always looking for a way to repair, repurpose and recycle our creations, alongside considering sustainable production opportunities at the point of design, we were really pleased to reveal that this stand was given a second-life following the exhibition as we donated the booth to Fashion and Textile school, Da Maere, in Enschede in the Netherlands. The stand was used as a fun meeting space within the school – its new home!

Wanting to make a positive change in the retail design industry?

Design plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of physical retail, and at D4R we envision a future where the only design for retail is sustainable design. We can translate our sustainable expertise into store design, pop up shops, shop-in-shops, window displays, category design and we even look at a more holistic approach to design in creating a brand identity. These are just a few brand activation services that we’d love to help your brand with. We challenge briefs where necessary, we push boundaries and we’re ambitious for our brands. We turn ideas into reality, so let’s make yours one…

Let’s talk

Every trend has an opposite, a counterpart that is its antithesis, and these ‘design dualities’ is precisely what our latest insight report explores. Delving into these dualities is not merely about style; it’s decoding the unspoken conversation of fractured communities, seeking pathways for bridge building through forms that reflect our division. Request the report!