Sustainability in furniture

Discussion – what is sustainability?

I’m not the only person these days thinking about the ways we consume. Everything from clothing, traveling to our food habits are being put under the lens and discussed in our homes, workplaces and behind locked doors of politicians and decision makers. But as a designer trying to consider sustainability matters and creating long lasting environmentally friendly furniture, I find it a bit disturbing and weird that there is so little discussions going in in the public about what we buy for our home. It seems as if the producers of furniture is not really being scrutinized the same way as the textile industry or recently the leather production has been in the past.

Yes, there are some activities ongoing and the Oeko-tex textiles are been used, FSC wood in some cases, and vegetable tanned leather has an vague airy sound of quality produce, at least here in Sweden. But still we put oil based molded seat cushions into our sofas, beds and more or less every armchair that is being produced.

Where are the initiatives to remove these substances from our homes and public spaces in furniture and interior design? Don’t we consider these aspects of our homes because it is too closely connected to the brands of our businesses, and the image of ourselves in our homes. If we tap into our choices of brand weather be it low or high end labels, we also risk shifting focus from appearance to care of the nature. As a customer, could it become really easy for to choose a sustainable choice, and what initiatives are driven by the producers?

I want to write about the different aspects of “sustainable” furniture and interiors. Below you can find few of the topics I’ll touch upon are:

  • certifications for labeling furniture
  • terminology – what does chrome tanned means?
  • production methods and sustainability
  • materials – longevity, issues and benefits, different options
  • inspiration – eco friendly labels and aware designers
  • trade and transportation – shipping across the world
  • maintenance – how can you treat your furniture to last the longest?
  • second hand – can your products be used in 5-10 years?
  • chemicals – what treatment has been done?

I’m really curious to see among other things what activities are going on to replace plastics based materials in furniture. Are there any suppliers that are really good at designing for re-upholstry or replacement of worn parts? Do you know of any initiatives? Please let me know so we can share.

Have a great day!

/Annika

PS. Also give a shout if you have a subject that you want me to look into! DS.

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