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Five iconic furniture brands championing sustainability in design

Some of your favourite names in design specification are leading the way in circularity and sustainable business practices.

Five iconic furniture brands championing sustainability in design

In the dawn of a new year, we are seeing our industry shift and change, with a renewed focus on longevity and a commitment to sustainability. Where recent years have seen the “fast fashion” movement influence rapid design trends and a high-churn approach to fit-outs, this new age is marked by a growing appreciation for furniture that is made to stand the test of time.

Through it all, Space Furniture has been a leading voice in design and a stalwart of products that are meticulously crafted and sustainably produced. In operation since 1993, Space now stands as the design epicentre of the Asia-Pacific, with showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur bringing the best of global design to the local region.

In over two decades of operation, Space has helped architects and designers to specify iconic brands with products designed by the likes of Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and Piero Lissoni. Their commitment to skilled design and exquisite materiality have produced collections that lie outside of passing trends, creating a timelessness in both form and function that underpins the true nature of sustainability in design. 

Today, Space Furniture continues to celebrate brands that champion the principles of sustainability and circularity, with five in particular are leading the way.

  1. B&B Italia
furniture brands

In the fit-out space, longevity and timelessness are tenets of sustainability, and these are core values that B&B Italia has always strived to meet. Their collection houses many iconic pieces that continue to be specified through the decades, with their archival appeal meaning vintage furniture (like Camaleonda by Mario Bellini) continues to be highly sought after beyond its first use.

Beyond this inherent timelessness, B&B Italia’s newer (and relaunched) pieces, have a more holistic approach to sustainability. BOREA by Piero Lissoni leads the way here, offering lounges, chairs and dining tables that are not just assembled from recyclable materials, but are designed to be separated and either recycled or reused as individual elements once they reach end of life.

Following on from BOREA, Nooch (Piero Lissoni) and Le Bambole (Mario Bellini) have also adopted this modular take on circularity, with disassembly and recyclability key features in both collections. Nooch also leans into the longevity of the B&B icons, with a durable, tubular frame allowing for multiple combinations of seating to be created and changed over time.

  1. Emeco
furniture brands

American brand Emeco started its foray into furniture with the now iconic Navy Chair, a lightweight, virtually indestructible chair especially designed for the US Navy in World War II. After the war ended, the company started shifting its sights to retail and hospitality specifications, with its uniquely industrial aesthetic making it a design favourite.

Fast forward to 2010 and a collaboration with Coca Cola put Emeco in a new sustainability stratosphere when they released a version of their classic chair made from at least 111 recycled PET bottles. The 111 Navy Chair solidified Emeco’s approach to materiality and carbon reductions and today their collection includes Broom, made from recycled polypropylene and discarded wood; SU, a family of stools crafted from eco-concrete, natural cork and reclaimed barn wood; On & On, chairs and stools are made of 70% rPET; and 1 Inch Reclaimed stacking chairs created from 90 per cent industrial waste materials.

Not content with just addressing materiality, Emeco is currently working on a chair-to-chair program where customers can return old chairs to be made into new ones, and in 2022 opened the doors to Emeco House in California – a modern, zero-energy space where architects, designers and the local community can connect and collaborate.

  1. Kartell

Kartell’s sustainability principles are guided by United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Working with these goals, the company developed a policy that would underpin all future work, and started “Kartell Loves the Planet”, a mission to convert the majority of their catalogue with recycled, sustainable and green materials.

This approach has seen the Italian brand launch Componibili Bio to the market, a sustainable reimagining of the iconic storage unit that sees it being made from renewable raw materials, derived from non-GMO agricultural materials not intended for the food chain.

Kartel has also launched Re-Chair, a product designed by Antonio Citterio in partnership with the major Italian coffee house illycaffè. This new chair – currently in black – is made from recycled Illy Iperespresso coffee capsules and is the first in a series of products that will eventually form a collection.

  1. Flos

With demand for their lighting designs right across the globe, Flos have rolled out a sustainability strategy addressing the carbon footprint that comes with shipping to far-flung destinations. In particular, My Circuit by Michael Anastassiades features a completely plastic-free packaging concept, with eco-friendly, flat-box shipping to keep the process as light and efficient as possible.

The product itself reiterates this commitment to the brand’s sustainability strategy, with many of My Circuit’s elements able to be disassembled and recycled.

  1. Edra

Edra’s approach to sustainability is embedded in the longevity of their products and the timelessness of their designs, with each piece a ready-made classic designed to last. Their production process is underpinned by research and driven by the dual pursuits of form and function with a commitment to attention to detail that can be seen through both design and engineering choices.

This ethos means that every piece has been carefully considered for comfort and aesthetics, with both standing the test of time to ensure that products become generational pieces.

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