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The Furniture Industry’s Circularity


We dive into the furniture industry’s practice of circularity and sustainability. What are some of the big brands doing to reduce their carbon footprint and be more conscious about the materials they use? Here’s a snapshot from some key brands that adopt this seismic shift in design and manufacturing processes. Also, the modern homeowner is getting savvy from his/her travels, and being part of the circular economy demonstrates their willingness to play a part in it.

Haworth Maari chairs in different leg bases. Image: Haworth.

“R” is the character to represent words such as recycle, repair, reuse, and rework. The current situation in the furniture industry is all about going the sustainable way. Many brands are sitting up to listen to the drastic changes in our climate. With raw materials extracted from Mother Earth, the furniture industry is not guilty of it. Some furniture brands have taken a strong stand in combating climate change and rethinking their techniques and manufacturing processes which may harm the environment. The seachange for many furniture companies to demonstrate their social and environmental consciences is getting more evident as consumers also want to play a part. Defining the goal or absolute circularity is now paramount for some brands. Trying to aim for zero-carbon processes may be a tough nut to crack but it’s placed on high emphasis because brands are taking notice of other brands.

Haworth Maari chair

Haworth Maari chair’s recycled and recyclable shell. Image: Haworth.

Haworth is one brand making changes in the way they adopt and use materials for their chair designs. Case in point, Haworth’s Maari chair was designed by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola. Created in 2019, its origin of materiality had to be relooked at. In 2021 , Urquiola took a challenge to relook at the chair’s material. She desired to produce a 100% recycled and recyclable version of its original plastic molded variant. She dove deep into advanced material research to understand the circularity mission. The firm also took on a corporate challenge to achieve 100% circularity by 2025.

Looking for Circularity

Working with German firm Bock, Urquiola was able to re-process the waste material and return them to the system via a recycling process. However, to achieve this, the process was far from straightforward because creating Maari’s one-piece shell while retaining its essential characteristics of strength and elasticity wasn’t easy. Nevertheless, the best solution has come through. Industry figures in the recycling process for the chair’s shell were a mere 15% in the European market. Come autumn 2022, the chair will be available with a 100% recycled – and recyclable – shell.

Haworth Maari chair

Maari chair design was upgraded in 2021 to be part of the circular economy. Image: Haworth.

Waste Not, Want Not

Waste should be treated as a precious resource or an opportunity to create new things. Unique to Maari’s new materiality is to go granular. Its padded version comes upholstered in recyclable yarns such as Seaqual (10 pe cent marine plastic and 90 per cent post-consumer PET from land sources), or Ocean fabric which is created entirely from recycled plastic derived from the ocean.

Transforming the Business

Making the switch to 100 per cent circularity might not be an easy task because the process of rethinking, reworking, and reducing materials has to be thorough and complete. As more renowned brands cross into the new paradigm shift of circular economy, it is hoped that other brands will follow suit. While the furniture industry has had a bad reputation for creating a high impact on the environment, the world is now more thankful that more brands are making this a real urgency to change for the better. With consumers desiring recyclable furniture , this creates a push for the furniture industry to meet this demand.

Here are some big furniture brands adopting a circular economy in some of their products.

Emeco

Emeco 1006 Navy chair

Emeco 1006 Navy chair; left is made from aluminum while the one on the right is made from PET plastic bottles. Image: Emeco.

American furniture brand Emeco’s iconic chair is the 1006 Navy. The first chair from the brand was made for the Navy as the name attests. Derived from 100 per cent recycled aluminum, it is endlessly recyclable and offers a lifetime warranty. In fact, across the portfolio, Emeco ensures 90 per cent of its products are made from recycled materials. The company “strives to make more with less”. The brand believes that more waste or recyclable materials can be reclaimed. Being a “Carbon Neutral” or “Carbon Negative” ” brand is the way going forward. Emeco believes that the solution is to minimise the impact in the first place, not only to compensate for it by buying carbon offset credits afterward. Its approach of “cradle-to-gate”, from the creation of the product to the moment it leaves the factory, is another

Emeco Navy chair

Emeco 1006 Navy chair. Image: Emeco.

Distributed by Spacefurniture.com.sg, Emeco is a brand recognised for high-quality products made from recycled materials and the modern homebuyer is aware of it. Derek Lim, General Manager cites, “With many Emeco designs to choose from to fit into any contemporary space, consumers are savvy about where their products are derived from. It’s part of the brand’s conscious effort in making their first step into the circular economy.”

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset Ploum sofa

Ligne Roset Ploum sofa designed by Bouroullec brothers. Image: Ligne Roset.

Founded in 1860, the French furniture brand is a giant in the industry. Its approach to Eco-Design has been a mainstay for the company for many decades. The brand deploys strict environmental criteria to the design of a product when it is first created. The brand looks at using Bois d’origine PESC – European wood products where ash, oak, walnut, and beech are derived from ecologically-managed forests. Since the 1970s, the family-led business has always been aware of environmental problems and looks closely at waste separation and recovery systems in every factor in France.

Ligne Roset Togo armchair module

Ligne Roset Togo armchair module designed by Michel Ducaroy. Image: Ligne Roset.

The brand even adopts a “clean manufacturing” process where gases and toxic waste from new furniture do not leak into consumers’ homes. Ligne Roset also takes a serious stance when it comes to air pollution. For the past decade, their manufacturing process uses UV acrylic varnishes that are hardened using UV lights (which do not have by-products). Ligne Roset is sold via Grafunkt.com in Singapore. As the sole distributor of this brand, Grafunkt is witnessing consumers becoming more eco-conscious with their purchases. Jef Kurniadidjaja, Co-founder and Director explains, “Ligne Roset’s collection of iconic and timeless pieces are designed and built to last, not just for a few years but for one generation after another. Its sustainable practices improve and enhance the quality of our lives .Our customers are well-travelled and savvy in their selection of furniture pieces that are sustainable for their homes.”

Andreu World

Andreu World Nuez Lounge Bio chair

Andreu World Nuez Lounge Bio biodegradable cum compostable chair designed by Patricia Urquiola. Image: Andreu World.

The Nuez Lounge Bio biodegradable cum compostable chair is derived from thermo-polymer produced by living micro-organisms and not fossil fuels. The shell is made from this 100% sustainable thermo-polymer and is available in a range of four colours. The interior is upholstered with the new fabric Circular ONE manufactured with PET bottle plastics and textile waste. Even the foam is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. Free from glue and other adhesives, the parts are removable for repairs and can be reupholstered at any time.

Andreu World Nuez Lounge Bio biodegradable chair

Andreu World Nuez Lounge Bio biodegradable chair has no adhesives and can be dismantled at any time. Image: Andreu World.

The central ash wood base is harvested from 100 per cent FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified sources. The chair is stocked up at xtra.com.sg and serves as the main distributor for this brand. When it comes to consumers becoming smarter shoppers and taking a nod to participate in the circular economy, Honmay Kwan, Director, Retail & Marketing, Xtra Singapore opines, “It’s great to see that shoppers are becoming more aware and environmentally conscious to support brands such as Andreu World in their sustainability efforts. With these increased efforts from our brand partners and demand from shoppers; it’s reassuring in the grand scheme of things for us to think about how we can do what we can to reduce waste and help the environment.”

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