Meet Samuel Clarke, creative director at Valiant and one of the people behind a whole new sustainable furniture rental range created from post-consumer recycled and reformed plastics.
August 7th, 2023
With a background in fashion and public relations, Samuel Clarke has a portfolio of diverse experience and is now putting it to use at furniture hire and styling company, Valiant. “What I’m really drawn to is the psychology of space – how we use space to both reflect and impress upon how we feel,” he explains.
A qualification in interior design and a stint in Vancouver followed, and a passion for property styling grew out of the various strands of experience. Interestingly, design in and of itself wasn’t always Clarke’s calling but is a skill and ambition that has evolved, especially during pandemic years that have necessitated a certain amount of domestic self-sufficiency. It was, as he puts it, a question of “what do we need – and if we can’t find it ourselves, we’re going to have to make it!”
Ultimately, it’s a road that leads to Valiant, and in particular its recent launch of a new sustainable furniture range. Indeed, sustainability is at the core of how Valiant sees itself and understands its place in the wider design industry.
“We have spent a lot of time evaluating our environmental impact, particularly our supply chain,” says Clarke. “We’re still gathering intelligence but what we realised is that we already have a great foundation to build on, in the sense that we naturally produce long asset life cycles in all our products. By its nature, rental furniture helps to avoid a consumerist or ‘fast furniture’ approach.”
Part of Valiant’s recent work has been to work on material substitutions across short and long terms. The recycled fabrics recently on show at Valiant’s Style Series event in Sydney are just one example – they are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. Meanwhile, the ReforaStone range features a terrazzo appearance and is made locally in Australia from 100 per cent recycled plastic waste. The overall statement is for Valiant to be Australia’s first carbon-neutral furniture hire and styling company.
“One of my inspirations and goals is to bring sustainability, practicality and those style trends altogether in one space,” says Clarke. “As we continue to develop these new products, it’s really exciting to think about the almost limitless application of, for example, ReforaStone.”
At the Style Series event, Clarke walked the audience through his recent experiences at “the Olympics of design”, Milan’s Salone del Mobile. “When we go to these design events, we’re really looking for trends by way of colour, material and process, but also overarching themes or global trends that are influencing all kinds of choices about design and how we interact with spaces,” explains Clarke.
“This year, we identified three themes,” he notes. “First, sustainability – how designers are taking a more responsible approach to their designs, processes and materials. Second, how technology can improve these processes and efficiencies, often in service of sustainable outcomes. Third, the question of how new technologies can speak to the traditional and the artisanal – how do these new technologies coexist with and relate back to the materials that we’ve used and celebrated for centuries?”
The launch of Valiant’s new range relates back to all of these Milan-inspired considerations. Clarke sums it up: “This year I really wanted to develop and procure pieces that seamlessly blend those style trends around sustainability and practicality by making those material substitutions without forfeiting the look or overall experience of products.”
Event photos by Sorted Media; product imagery courtesy of Valiant
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