Pollution and waste are essentially a design decision. This premise also highlights the potency of designers to be part of the solution when it comes to achieving higher levels of product durability, waste avoidance and higher levels of product reuse, repair, and recycling.
As we transition towards a circular economy it has become obvious that recycling alone is not adequately solving the problem of waste. The need to prolong the life, value and functionality of buildings, products, components, and materials has emerged as a key principle necessary to close loops, decarbonise and consumer within the bounds of the planet’s resources.
Enter the importance of durability and design strategies that proactively enable and encourage product life extension, easy repair, and reuse, as well as materials recycling when product reaches the very end of-life.
So, when it comes to furniture for commercial interiors, the Wilkhahn brand is synonymous with design driven durability without compromising ergonomics and aesthetics. This company, like many other German manufacturers, understands the value of producer responsibility as it applies to office furniture, especially task seating.
The Wilkhahn Picto chair launched in 1992 was an exemplar in ‘eco’ design for its day, and the company has continued to evolve a sophisticated environmental philosophy explicit in its products today. There is a reserved yet robust and thoughtful outlook which places ecology and ergonomics at the centre of its furniture design process.
The company’s 1989 Mission Statement is clear and concise:
“In case of doubt, the ecological aspect has priority over quick profit.”
More specifically this funnels down into practical design solutions and products features which maximise durability and seek to eliminate waste. It is a straightforward strategy that is sharply executed. In essence the resource consumption hierarchy is applied i.e. avoid, reduce, reuse, recover and recycle, with an emphasis on avoidance and reduction.
So how does Wilkhahn embody these principles at the product level?
- Products are modular
- Expendable parts can be exchanged
- Specific features can be added or retrofitted
- Connecting point s in the product can be dismantled for easy repair
- Materials identified for recovering and recycling at end-of-life
While these ‘technical’ features are not revolutionary, they are significant when combined with the view that products should be timeless, and warranties are customer-friendly and environmentally oriented. Sustainable interiors demand more than just low VOC finishes and a percentage of recycled content in floor coverings. Interiors need to ensure that human health and environmental health are addressed through circular models, and this means designing-out waste and pollution from the outset.
For more information visit Fairview or Wilkhahn.