How Furniture Companies Are Saving The Planet Reusing Discarded Materials
In today’s society we have to be more concerned about environmental and sustainable issues, as our planet is being destroyed. Design has its part in the question, can we help by being sustainable?
Clippings invited us to their weekly event “Breakfast Insights”, to talk about sustainability and design. The furniture brand Mater who is one of the leading companies in sustainability presented their work.
Mater is a brand that creates a conscious and ethical design. It was founded in 2006 in Copenhagen by Henrick Marstrand, who makes Scandinavian styled furniture. Their philosophy is to “reuse, reduce and recycle”. They want to change the way people think about furniture by inspiring their behaviour and by giving them the opportunity to engage in sustainable thinking. Their name means “mother” to remind their will to preserve mother earth. Their goal is to reduce their footprint on the planet while keeping a good quality of furniture and aesthetic and comfortable design.
Every object they create has a story and explores the sustainability question with new materials or ethical ways of working. They are made to last but also to inspire the consumer. The designers constantly search for new materials by looking for sources of waste and how to reuse them to create a new material.
They created new materials imitating marble from yoghurt cups waste (the white one) or food packaging waste (the black one), which can be used to make table sets (Column Dining Table by OeO Studio, or Surface tables by PEDERJESSEN).
Creating sustainable design is difficult.
It has to be aesthetic, people want beautiful furniture and will not buy it if it is not sustainable but and displeasing to look at. They have to find it attractive and well priced too.
The furniture has to be solid. This is not always easy with the materials they get from their waste. As a consequence, they have to think about the right shape or combination of materials.
Obviously, the furniture they create has to be respectful to the environment. They try to limit the ecological impact design can have. They used recycle material an FSC certified wood (the label for responsible forestry), they incorporate the UN Global Compact principle into their strategies, policies and procedures. They always try to achieve as much UN Global Compact’s goals as possible. They constantly search for waste sources and try to find new recycle materials made from them so it is not waste anymore. In a more general way, they choose the most sustainable solutions as possible. Moreover, all their lighting designs use LED, which use clean and eco-friendly energy, and it saves 85% of your energy costs.
Then, it has to be ethical. Mater favours renewable or certified wood, recycled waste and new efficient energy sources. They make sure the furniture they create is of a high quality and will last, but also that the conditions in which they are manufactured are good. They work with artisans and make craftsmanship their first choice.
Finally, it has to be affordable. Ecology and ethics are reputed to be expensive and a lot of people do not choose the ecological and ethical way when they have the choice because if the price is more expensive. It should be easier for people to make the right choice. If the price is too high, people will not buy it and nothing will change in society and in our environment .
When the design is aesthetic, solid, ecological, ethical and affordable, then it becomes sustainable.
The Ocean Chairs and Tables have been designed by Joergen and Nanna Ditzel. They have been awarded Wallpaper Magazine Design award in early 2019. The idea was first thought of in 1955! But at that time people did not really care about sustainable issues and did not have the knowledge that we have today.
The Ocean Collection is made from ocean plastic waste and has been created to prevent pollution of the world’s oceans, which is one of the current biggest ecological issues. Mater works with a Danish company named Plastix. They transform fishermen nets into pellets. These pellets are then melted and moulded to make the chairs or the tables. 9.6 kilos of ocean plastic waste and 1.6 kilos of CO2 are saved per chair. The Ocean Collection can also be recycled to create other furniture for the collection.
The Nova Chair has been designed by the design studio ARDE. It is innovative by the technique of moulding 3D veneer, so the designer can produce a comfortable, light and organic shape. It is made with recycled excess pieces of beech veneer. It has been sliced and glued together to make the chairs.
The Bowl Tables have been designed by Ayush Kasliwal. It is made of mango wood from India. There, we can find a lot of mango trees. When the tree is not able to produce fruits anymore, the farmers crop the tree and burn it down. By reusing it, it provides extra income to the farmers and creates sustainable furniture. Mater uses mango wood in a lot of their furniture pieces. Every Bowl table is handmade in India, so Mater supports local craftsmanship as well.
The Trumpet Coat Stand has been designed by Space Copenhagen. 70% of the Trumpet Coat Stand is made of recycled aluminium. They mix 30% of aluminium with 70% of different waste scrap they have collected across India. It is crafted in a workshop in the North of India. Artisans use the ancient and traditional technique of sand casting.
The Nestor Chair has been designed by Tom Stepp. The Nestor Chair is made with wood, with a natural paper cord seat. The waste of wood is transformed into pellets that are ready to use for heating, by a family driven workshop in a small village in Slovenia. The wood workshop and the village are self-sufficient with heating using only these wood waste pellets. The designer strived to make it very comfortable.
Mater associates the beautiful shapes, details, wonderful material and better craftsmanship. They create an affordable, beautiful product, responsible and sustainable design. This is what makes them a visionary design brand.
They offer an opportunity to help our planet.
I hope interior designers and consumers will pay more attention to the products they buy and specifying that will last the test of time to help our planet and our future.