Everything, absolutely everything in our day-to-day lives has a social and environmental impact: from the clothes we wear to the midday meal or the training session in the afternoon. The only way to continue living life as we know it today is through sustainability. For this reason, more and more companies and businesses have zero emissions objectives and are committed to incorporating circular retail design in the interior design of their commercial establishments.

If sustainability is in the core business of brands and they are part of their environmental values ​​and objectives, the way to land it in their commercial establishments is through the circular economy. They can do this through measures such as, for example, reducing emissions, efficiency, etc.

Incorporating the circular economy into interior design is a job left to architects, designers, and decorators. They are responsible for selecting the tools and materials to achieve this through, for example, eco-design, home automation, innovation or bioclimatic architecture. All this in order to create commercial establishments that are sustainable not only operationally but also from their conception and construction.





What is circular design?

Circular design consists of implementing the concept of circular economy in the design of spaces. In other words, create a system that prolongs the useful life of products thanks to their reuse and recycling.

The circular design could start, for example, with the selection of sustainable building materials such as certified wood, that is, sourced from responsible logging, or cellulose fiber from recycled paper.

When we talk about circular design, it must be taken into account that this system covers several aspects related to a product:

  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • Repairability
  • Disassembly
  • Recyclability


Therefore, recalling the words of the Ellen McArthur Foundation, we could say that “a circular economy is one that by design is restorative and regenerative”.


The purpose of a circular design is that the material resources used end up returning to the system through a recycling and regeneration process.



Opportunities and challenges in circular design

Circular design is an opportunity to rethink our business models and …

  • Minimize the social and environmental impact.
  • Exercise a more sustainable and responsible use of resources, reducing energy consumption and eliminating the generation of waste.
  • Emulate the workings of nature and leave behind the conventional model of linear production, so based on extracting, producing, using and throwing away.
  • Serve as inspiration for new sustainable circular design practices.


You do not change from a linear business model to a circular one overnight. In this sense, designers have a vital role in integrating the circularity of the system.



Circular retail design

The world of design is one of the most aware of the need to incorporate sustainability into its business models in order to respond to the demand of customers, who are increasingly interested in responsible consumption.

When we talk about circular retail design, designers are the key to sustaining a reduction of the environmental impact in the spaces and interiors that we design. Thus, they have to value aspects such as the use of natural resources, a lower carbon footprint, substitute toxic products for more natural ones or favor artisan products developed in local communities.


Tips for implementing a circular design in your store or business

From CAAD, as specialists in interior design and thanks to our experience as consultants in the creation of sustainable commercial spaces, we have detected a series of measures and recommendations that will help you create your store under the standards of a circular retail design.


  • Choose products with a lower environmental impact. For example wood, wool or natural stone. It is important to favor the use of renewable natural resources. In this sense, it may be useful to look for products that have standardized labels such as FSC (recycled materials and from sustainable forests) or PassivHaus (low energy consumption) and that designers know how to analyze the life cycle of a product so that so they can evaluate their impact.
  • Go for good insulation with quality windows to ensure energy efficiency.
  • Use natural light and opt for lighting that favors it, such as LED and low consumption. Also use colors that reduce dependence on artificial light.
  • The eco-design will help you to the circularity of the materials, achieving a lower environmental impact.
  • Using synthetic materials is a way to apply circularity and avoid the depletion of natural resources since synthetic materials are usually made from recycled waste.
  • Choose a flexible design by opting for furniture or modular and mobile floors or modifiable walls that allow you to adapt and make changes over time without having to invest in new materials.
  • Close the circle. Opt for designs that make it easy to disassemble and recycle the product. In this way, at the end of its useful life its recovery and regeneration will be easier.






Examples of circular retail design

In the past, companies were very disconnected from sustainability and environmental commitments. But in recent years this is changing and companies, to respond to the demands of investors and consumers, are adopting new goals to reduce their social and environmental impact.

In this context, from CAAD we want to share some examples of circular retail design.


Albert Heijn Supermarkets

This Dutch brand is committed to using recycled construction materials (concrete, steel, facade cladding …). They have also reused interior design elements such as floor and ceiling cladding, lighting or fire hoses.

Also the refrigeration furniture and the automatic scanning areas are recovered thanks to the circular economy and a team of designers who have been in charge of searching and selecting the most sustainable materials for supermarkets.


© Copyright. Albert Heijn Supermrkt




The world of fashion is one of the most aware of the need to implement sustainability in all its processes. Many brands are abandoning fast fashion to develop more sustainable products. This is the case, for example, of H&M, which has the Conscious line, whose garments are made with sustainable fabrics, or Dhana, which produces personalized clothing from old clothing provided by customers.

Nike has also developed a designers manual with circular design principles and advice but the company goes further and has also decided to approach circular retail design. Thus, the interior of many Nike stores has been decorated with electronic waste and plastics produced by Miniwiz, a Taiwanese company that recycles waste from electronics or construction products into sustainable building materials.



© Copyright. Nike



K&Co Restaurant

We would also like to highlight the case of K & Co Restaurante, which has the international eco-label ECOCOOK. This tapas bar in Madrid has been built with sustainable materials to maximize its energy coefficient. They only use recycled and compostable materials and utensils.

In addition, they are committed to sustainability when it comes to maintaining the temperature of the premises and they also care about managing their waste and recycling it. Lastly, they work exclusively with local suppliers.


© Copyright. K&Co





Going from a linear and conventional business model to a sustainable one with circular retail design requires, above all, to have a team of experts with knowledge and experience in the design of sustainable commercial spaces. In this sense, at CAAD we are very aware of responsible design and consumption. For this reason, we have a team of experts with the capacity to advise on the search and selection of sustainable materials.





Follow us in Twitter and Linkedin, sign up to our newsletter and you will keep up to date with trends and issues related to retail.