The question is whether furniture designers are environmentally responsible?? How do furniture professionals respond to initiatives to reduce waste?
Today it is not surprising that nice-looking chair is made from household plastic waste. The toxic industrial waste is converted into ceramic tableware, recycled food containers are transformed into street furniture and rugs are made from old Adidas trainers.
Here is my selection of furniture projects that led to eco-aware contemporary designs in a variety of ways. Some of them use sustainable materials (trash, reused materials, industrial waste or other refuse); use new, sustainable production method; perform research of the materials or take a different approach.
How to use waste plastic bottles
To fulfil the goal of recycling, designers Barber & Osgerby choose the newest engineered version of recycled material rPET for their On& On collection of chairs and stools. rPET is made of waste plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in the landfill. The On & On are made of 70% rPET, 10% non-toxic pigment, and 20% glass fibre for strength.
What is equally important rPET can be recycled again. Manufacturer Emeco is currently working on a chair-to-chair program where customers can return old chairs, and company use the material to make their new chairs - all made & remade in America.
The starting point for designers is café chair with recycling as a main goal. The final result of the right balance between design idea, technical expertise, innovative thinking is this collection of chairs and stools that are lightweight, yet extremely strong and durable. The items are suitable for both demanding commercial environments and domestic use, indoors and out. The efficient use of plastic ensures lower carbon emissions when shipping, making this collection sustainable.
It is worth mentioning that this is not Emeco’s first sustainable project. In 1944 they started to recycle aluminium. Now in the production process, they use different materials like PET, wood polypropylene, wood, eco concrete, orc. Each of them is a specific story of recycling and cooperation with the famous designers on the way of creating new product.
From leftover material to final product
Jorge Penadés taught us how to use materials which are to the company no longer in use. He chose leftover extruded aluminium profiles, as row material for his designs. He has converted these profiles into colourful vases entitled Piscis. This collection with various modelsis a part of the project named REmix, since it has something of a mix.In this case, mix is made of the old profiles and new product.
The sustainable, new process
In the process of the creation of new furniture, it is necessary to consider all factors which impact on the future product, not only sustainable material.
Layer studio designed Ripple table which uses an innovative and sustainable new process for corrugating plywood to deliver an ultra-lightweight product with minimal environmental impact.
Layer used innovative 3mm corrugated plywood to deliver a huge strength-to-weight ratio for impressive usability and sustainability stats.
Easily maneuverable by a single person, the table responds to the dynamic living trends shaping the future.
Re-using waste product from the furniture industry
The AXYL chair, designed by Layer studio, is with a robust set of functional features, highly sculptural forms, sustainable characteristics and with attention to detail. The recycled aluminium in the Y-frame of the chairs uses just 5% of the energy required to create new aluminium and offers significant cost savings.The chair shells, stool tops and café tabletops are available in a variety of low-impact materials, including recycled wood fibre, reclaimed timber and recycled nylon. These materials offering an efficient method of re-using waste product from the furniture industry.
The AXYL collection confirms commitment of the designer to design sustainable products.
New material for the famous product
Even long-lasting and best seller products can have a new sustainable life. The confirmation is the chest of drawers Componibile designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri in 1967 with an initial structure in ABS. At Salone del Mobile 2019 Kartell launched this modular unit in an eco-sustainable edition. In this 100%-natural version, Kartell used a bioplastic from Bio-On. This plastic is made from different renewable plant sources.
The furniture from a household, plastic waste
Another example of usage recyclable plastic is chair N02™ Recycle. Japanese studio Nendo designed elegant chair N02™ Recycle, made of recycled plastic that can be recycled again if necessary. The plastic for N02™ Recycle comes from the household, plastic waste collected, processed and upcycled in central Europe. This waste includes food packaging, water bottle lids and straws which are ground into plastic pellets and melted down to assume the shape of the chair’s mould. The chair’s sustainable materials extend beyond the plastic seat, as its steel base is 50 per cent recycled and its aluminium stand is 95 per cent recycled. This process could technically be repeated an infinite amount of times using various plastic objects.
N02™ Recycle is a strong, stackable chair with a simple shape and appropriate ergonomic performances.
The idea of recycling
Yang designer Philipp Hainke offered a new solution to recycling. Halo is a stackable chair with a biological seat pan and a supporting construction made from steel.
During his Organico project, he performed a study of material, form, functionality and production method. The result of the research is the hemp and casein-based sandwich-material used for the materialization of the chair. The chair concept has been created to showcase the strength and possibilities of this lightweight material.
Halo won second prize at the Salone Satellite Awards 2019 as outstanding work by the young designer.
Hoping that Halo chair will find interested furniture manufacturers and will be launched on the market.
From upcycled parachute material to the furniture
The limited-edition Canopy Collection comprises four rocking chairs and two screens made from welded steel frames with recycled parachute upholstery. The simple, modernist steel structures provide a “blank canvas” for the parachute material, allowing the textile to be the most expressive element of each piece. The fabric has been wrapped, slung and hung within and around the framework to create.
The Canopy collection is a result of the close collaboration of Layer design with RÆBURN, a fashion brand. Both shares a passion for sustainable and responsible design. Together, they have translated the label’s iconic use of upcycled parachute material into an exciting exploration of form and materiality in furniture.
Design icon in a green edition
The Sacco was designed in 1968 by young architects Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro and put into production in 1969 by Zanotta.
The famous and best seller product Sacco returns renewed in a green edition, in recognition of the need for global change.
Sacco goes green is limited edition collection. Innovative and sustainable materials – both the internal padding and the cover, featuring a brand-new pattern designed by Pierre Charpin.
The expanded high-resistant polystyrene pellets (EPS) of the original design are replaced by BioFoam® microspheres by Synbra: a bio-plastic (PLA) deriving from sugar cane that can be compared to EPS due to its structure, properties and technical performances. The primary difference is the raw material: EPS is based on fossil raw materials (a finite resource), while BioFoam® consists of biopolymers, which are made of vegetable materials (an infinite resource). BioFoam® is biodegradable and it can be industrially composted, it is durable and is suitable for long-term use.
This design solution for the iconic form confirms Zanotta environmental responsibility.
I hope that these innovative designs will be inspiring in terms of environmental issues.