As planetary resources dwindle and the worldwide energy crisis deepens, stunning design is no longer enough in the furniture-making industry. Today, we need products that are not only functional and aesthetically pleasing, but which also represent a step toward a sustainable future. These 10 ingenious eco-friendly furniture designs do just that.
Brent Comber is a Canadian designer with innovative ideas about recycled wooden furniture. While driftwood, discarded pallets, and repurposed roof beams are the all too common industry standard, Comber finds his material in the fallen branches littering the floor of his local Douglas Fir forest. He utilizes the random shapes and angles he finds to create stunning tables, which embody the interplay of chaos and order.
Werner Aisslinger’s unique design is the first to use a one-piece natural cloth to create a fully functional seat. Thanks to hemp’s impressive strength, combining it with specially designed eco-friendly glue and moulding it at high temperatures produces a lightweight and surprisingly sturdy, sleek, and stackable chair.
This high-tech rocking chair designed by American designer Rochus Jacob incorporates nano-dynamo technology to generate electricity from the motion of its rocking. The energy is stored in a battery pack and recycled to power a bulb-less OLED lamp, whose shade is actually the light source. The Murakami Chair thus not only embodies an impressive sustainable technology, but also gives users a unique awareness of their energy consumption.
Despite being constructed almost entirely from wood, Reinier De Jong’s ‘Steel’ dining chairs are named for the working end of the tools they imply without containing. Soil, sweat, sunlight, and hard work all leave their mark on De Jong’s chairs, which are built from used tool handles that still bear the marks of former use. Made from 100% recycled material, these cleverly designed seats hint at the labour and immeasurable non-monetary value contained in the wood products we use everyday.
Inspired by accordion-style party decorations, these collapsible, durable, and portable stools are perfect for casual get-togethers, cocktail parties, and even picnics. Designed by Buenos Aires-based Georgia Pizzabiocche, Banquito Cartoons are made from 100% recycled corrugated cardboard reclaimed from industrial waste.
Equal parts art and eco-friendly furniture, Andy Gregg’s incomparable designs are constructed entirely from discarded bicycle parts. As an artist and enthusiastic bike mechanic, Gregg founded Bike Furniture Design in 2006, and has been consistently producing these striking pieces ever since.
This high-end sideboard, made using salvaged automobile scrap, was designed by Iannone Design in collaboration with Joel Hester. It utilizes locally sourced lumber, composite maple plywood, and was handcrafted with the aim of reducing industrial waste.
Giorgio Caporaso has taken cardboard furniture design to an unprecedented level of elegance with his so-called Paper Chaise series. Ecological and recyclable, his furniture is low maintenance, affordable, and easily repaired. Not to mention the sleek curves and award winning aesthetic of these beautifully crafted lounge chairs, shelf units, and end tables.
O Range Tables and Chairs
These subtle, gorgeous creations by David Colwell are the embodiment of creative efficiency. Using steam bent ash, innovative “tubular rivet” joints, and a pioneering saw technology that eliminates the need for dust extraction and reduces timber processing requirements by two-thirds, Colwell’s O Range series is amongst the most sustainable wood furniture ever built.
Alexander Pelikan, a forward-thinking Dutch designer, hopes his downloadable furniture will pave the way to a more sustainable future by reducing transport and material expenses, while providing a model for eco-friendly local production. After purchasing and downloading the design, consumers simply head to the nearest mill to have the furniture cut and assembled.
If we stand any chance of overcoming our environmental woes, sustainable construction will need to pervade every aspect of our society. As these furniture designs demonstrate, the slow transition to ecological awareness has already begun. One can only hope these examples will speed us along on the path to a future in which society can coexist harmoniously with the natural world.