The furniture industry continues to bounce back from the most recent economic recession. Expected to become a $695-billion industry worldwide by 2019 according to an article published by MarketResearch.com, the sector has experienced major shifts in consumer preferences.
Trends such as increased telecommuting are raising the demand for home office furniture. Further, a desire for versatility requires manufacturers and distributors to supply multifunctional pieces that can accommodate different-sized spaces. Another trend leading the way in 2016 is “going green.”
Furnishings made of recyclable materials — and using sustainable processes to make them — are in higher demand, despite an increased price tag. Companies making an effort to meet these new demands in order to preserve the environment include the following:
Champion surfer Kelly Slater teamed up with PBteen once again to launch a new collection of eco-friendly furniture that caters to teenagers. Slater, an advocate of sustainable practices, designed more than 30 pieces that integrated materials such as recycled fibers and organic cotton. In addition, Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC-certified) woods can be seen throughout the line.
Buyers can choose from coffee tables made of reclaimed wood or consider a recycled denim pouf to update their space. Wall décor, like the Ocean Ombre Macrame and Eco Surf Gallery, and bedding made of 100 percent organic materials also are available to purchase online or at a retail location. Once purchased, buyers will have peace of mind knowing that each piece will be delivered using environmentally-conscious packaging.
J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture
Based in Vancouver, Canada, J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture preserves history and the environment by reusing materials that have hundreds of years of history. It manufactures furniture from old-growth trees, a coniferous plant from the Pacific Northwest that can grow upwards of 400 feet tall and 20 feet wide over the course of 2,000 years.
The trees are now located in protected regions; however, those harvested 100 years ago for the purpose of constructing barns and heritage buildings can be found in the form of salvage timber. J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture uses the lumber to create tables, bar carts, and bookcases. The pieces are sold alongside other home furnishings constructed from discarded shipping pallets. The owners recycle all parts of the pallets down to the last nail. Leftover wood scraps are used as firewood.
Ashley Furniture Industries
A leader in home furnishings, Ashley Furniture Industries strives to preserve the environment by using engineered woods in a majority of its products. Made of 100 percent recycled wood, engineered wood is comprised of 32 percent more wood matter than solid lumber, which only utilizes 63 percent of a tree. In terms of finishes, the company predominantly completes products with a water-based solution to reduce the need for harmful chemicals, which put out more emissions.
Further, Ashley Furniture Industries has an established program that recycles 65,000 tons of wood by-products, 157 tons of sheet metal, 3,000 light bulbs, and 13,000 wooden pallets annually. The same program keeps tons of office paper and computer equipment out of landfills.
Based in Munich, Germany, Additive Elements intends to work with interior designers, architects, and furniture manufacturers to produce large furnishings from recycled resources and renewable vegetable products, all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. The company offers a three-dimensional (3D) printing service that transforms the materials from a powdery substance into a tangible product. The materials adhere to one another with a water-based solvent. Additive Elements reduces waste by designing a printing process that saves excess powder for reuse in other projects.
As of April of 2016, the company extends end-to-end service, which includes prototyping, scaling of the material system, and production. It can create pieces as large as 13 feet long. For added customization, the organization is collaborating with DyeMasion and Trindo to develop a variety of surface treatments that match the eco-friendliness of its existing service.
Milos Ristin produces the ergonomic chair Low Five. First introduced in 2014 as part of a diploma project at Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), the chair is made of a fully-recyclable combination of polypropylene composite Pure, a foam called Alveolit, and Kvadrat, which is the fabric covering the chair. The thermoplastic itself is lightweight and weatherproof, making it an ideal material to use indoors and outdoors.
The company utilizes no thermoset glues or harmful chemicals, but focuses on autoclave curing, a method using high pressures and temperatures to manipulate material, with the assistance of HS-Composite to form the shell. The free-formed legs are made of recyclable Pemat AG aluminum, another lightweight material that caters well to a “throw away” culture.
People purchasing the chair not only feel good about its environmentally-friendly design that took several prototypes to make, but enjoy comfort from its low center of gravity and wide proportions that encourage lounging. Milos Ristin also helps owners save space by making them stackable up to six pieces.