Chairs with a conscience

By Jo Weaden
February 20, 2020

Acknowledging and tackling modern environmental issues has been at the heart of a number of recent chair launches – particularly the N02™ Recycle chair from Fritz Hansen, Ocean Chair by Mater and the Colonial Chair upholstered in Kvadrat’s Re-Wool from Carl Hansen & Søn.

All of these designs have one thing in common: they make use of plastic polluting our oceans, as well as post-consumer and industry waste.

Fritz Hansen has launched the N02™ Recycle chair, an all-purpose seat made from household waste. The coloured, recycled polypropylene chair has been designed in collaboration with Nendo and is available in seven shell colour options.

“The fact that the material is constructed from everyday recycled plastics creates an extra connection between the user and the chair. It is an accessible design made for everyday use and made from everyday recycled household plastics,” says Oki Sato of Nendo. Inspired by a crease of paper, the idea forms the chair’s shell that is made from circular plastic, allowing it to be recycled again if necessary.

The Ocean Chair by Mater is an original design by Nanna and Joergen Ditzel from 1955 – it has been reinvented as an outdoor chair created from upcycled fishing nets.

The Ocean Chair uses around 960g of plastic waste and combines innovative solutions to reduce pollution of the world’s oceans by teaming up with a waste recycling facility that pays fishermen for their used fishnets. The furniture company is aligning its values with the UN Global Goals – one of which is to preserve life below water and this inspired the creation of the chair. The Ocean Collection is designed for disassembly, allowing each component to be recycled and used in new production circles.

Carl Hansen & Søn has launched Ole Wanscher’s Colonial Chair upholstered in Kvadrat’s Re-Wool. The textile is made from recycled wool and uses scraps from the company’s yarn spinners in the UK.

“The idea was to create a both honest and environmentally friendly textile with a poetic feel by recycling leftover material from Kvadrat’s own production,” says Margrethe Odgaard, designer of Re-wool for Kvadrat. The chair itself is crafted using wood from sustainably managed forests and responsible sawmills.

The aesthetics of these chairs have not been compromised by material choice or the values that lie behind them. These are just three examples of recently launched designs from furniture companies that are helping to minimise our impacts on the planet.

They demonstrate that opportunities to embrace sustainable materials exist and that these materials can be used to produce classic and high-quality products.