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Durability is key

Sustainable furniture production: inspiration for the industry

Sustainability is more important now in the furnishing sector than ever before. Innovative start-ups and large companies are already following the trend – introducing new materials to the market and creating customisable furnishing systems that can be flexibly extended. Find out here about the clever approaches that already exist and how the sustainability trend could develop in future.

Sustainability concept Company Packaging

Like many other industries, the furnishings sector finds itself in a transformation in which sustainability has become a driver of innovation. (Photo: Marcel Viragh)

Great design: durable and resource-efficient

First-class design has always been sustainable. In view of climate change, however, sustainability and eco design are more important than ever these days. The most popular classic pieces from yesteryear boast elegant looks and finely crafted materials. Timeless and long-lived, they are handed down the generations. Such pieces work well in spaces furnished in modern or traditional styles.

Thonet is an excellent example of a sustainable furniture company: the German family-run business has focused on durable, minimalist designs with great success since its beginnings in 1819. Many other designers are now keen to drive sustainable furniture production forward with innovative ideas. And the purchasing behaviour of consumers also demonstrates that it’s worth focusing on sustainability.

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S32 / S 64 1140 Oak" cantilever chair by Thonet

Good design is durable and means that furniture is used and cherished for generations. Thonet’s classic S32 and S64 cantilever chairs are a great example. (Photo: Thonet)

Extendable furniture and modular concepts

Extendable furniture, customised systems and recycling furniture : it’s important that the lifespan of the purchased item is as long as possible. A key feature of products by Kettnaker , for example, is that the fronts are easy to replace. The manufacturer also offers a large range of care products for the furniture.

When it comes to modularity, Tavar’s sustainability concept stands out. The cupboard systems are fitted with magnets, allowing them to be assembled and extended as desired without any tools needed. What’s so innovative about this system is that different shapes and subdivisions can be built from the same elements. The wood is of a high quality and the design is timelessly minimalist.

16boxes impresses with minimalist design and mobility. Extendable furniture such as benches, shelves and sideboards can be quickly put together to create flexible room concepts – and all without screws. The manufacturer claims that this leads to a 50 per cent reduction in the materials used. Consumers can also use a configurator to realise their own ideas.

Furniture that grows with you for life

Cubit and Modul Möbel Wolfschwenger offer furniture that grows with you, including beds, sofas and shelves. With the Cubit shelf and sofa systems, consumers have freedom to decide how to assemble them – guaranteeing they’ll never get bored. When two becomes three: beds by Wolfschwenger impress with all their possible extensions and modifications.

Going a step further, furniture systems that do even more than grow are perfect for families. Children’s bedrooms in particular are constantly being modified, with new furniture required. This is where Filomi’s sustainability concept comes in: consumers can buy a bed and, over time, furnish an entire room with matching furniture modules. Suitable for all ages from early childhood to adulthood, there are timeless designs and numerous modular options, including shelves, platform beds with storage, toy chests, climbing trees and wardrobes. Filomi uses short supply chains and sustainably produced wood.

Recycling furniture and the circular economy

Recycling furniture is not a new concept. Recycled furniture has long been popular thanks to their vintage look. Innovations come from other industries: companies think one step further and develop an entire sustainability cycle, as is the case with hejhej’s yoga mats , for example. The manufacturers then go on to make new products from used mats, thereby creating a never-ending circle for recycled materials. This principle is called cradle to cradle .

Team 7 has a similar a vision: the wood used by the company comes from its own forest. The business concept also includes repairs and adjustments. Should it eventually become necessary to dispose of products, they can be used locally as firewood – bringing the cycle to a close. The CO2-neutral carpet tiles by modulyss also function according to the cradle-to-cradle principle. Manufactured from waste products, they end up back in the chain as utilisable raw materials.

Spark" recycled furniture from modulyss

Good design is durable and means that furniture is used and cherished for generations. Thonet’s classic S32 and S64 cantilever chairs are a great example. (Photo: Thonet)

Huge potential for 3D-printed replacement parts

3D printers have a huge potential in interior design. There are countless possibilities and numerous undiscovered ideas that remain to be exploited. For example, why not use 3D printers to produce replacement parts for items of furniture? The respective elements and related instructions are bound to attract great interest from consumers. 3D-printed replacement parts are resource-efficient because they do not require new material such as wood. This sustainability aspect is extremely important with regard to the global scarcity of resources. For the furnishings industry, it would mean that manufacturers no longer need to procure materials. They would simply produce items through 3D printing.

Sustainability drives innovation

Sustainability concepts have a huge opportunity to inspire change, and more and more innovations are being introduced to the market. High time, then, to get creative and take sustainability further – untapped potential is waiting to be discovered. Consumers are prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly furniture. They want high-quality, resource-saving products that last a long time. As in many other sectors, sustainability has become a key factor that drives innovation in the interiors industry. The companies mentioned above are already demonstrating this through their success. Businesses that want to be part of a functioning circular economy and benefit from that will focus on sustainable furniture now and in future. Everyone is talking about topics such as eco design, cradle to cradle and the circular economy, and these will shape trends in the furniture industry for a long time to come.

Find out how manufacturers and designers are becoming a driving force in the circular economy, and how the cycle works, in this article .

Discover other sustainable companies and find inspiration at imm cologne 2022 from 17 to 23 January. Buy your ticket here now .