Updated: Oct 2
Circular furniture is a term that has links to the concept of the circular economy. An idea that is not new yet popular these days.
The term determines the model of production and consumption that involves reusing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling as opposed to what we are familiar with as "take, make, and waste."
As the industry is shifting toward more sustainable approaches for times to remain suitable for human living, circularity in furniture has also gained exposure.
Recently, Ikea introduced the plans to redevelop its furniture line under the same approach by 2030. While critics still believe sustainable furniture and architecture are a myth, we can't ignore the ones making efforts. So I went on a journey upon the web and found some insights that I thought to lay down on a single page. Let's begin.
What is Circular Furniture?
Circularity in furniture refers to a careful utilization of materials and design elements for the final products to match the demands of the circular economy, which are reuse, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling. The expected outcome of this model is to reduce the overutilization of resources and make production and consumption sustainable while not cutting supply chains.
However, the industry has an inclining growth that only resonates with a positive demand curve. While fulfilling such demands, how may the objective be perceived?
Well-estimated research might help with it, and the key aspects will help you understand how.
By now, I have used the 4R's twice. Knowing what importance they have, let's discuss these circular loops independently.
Acquiring a product or claiming ownership of any piece is the foundation here. The next comes the use, maintenance, and adaptation of the product by the consumer. If a consumer wants to upgrade, the old product passes on to a new owner enabling the used products or secondhand market.
The process carries out the restoration of used, damaged, or non-compliant products. It assists in turning the product into a state close to new. It also includes repairs made by consumers or an after-market service. After a successful refurbishment and evaluation, the product can enter the market again.
This time, it will be available with a lower price tag and a certificate of refurbishing.
Dismantled products and resource recovery are the necessary aspects of this process. It might also result in lower costs for the firm and, if fortunate, for the market.
Recycling refers to converting products to raw materials that can play a crucial role in production lines for different purposes. It is the last stage of all 4R's. So, a product that enters this stage has been through all possibilities of reuse, refurbishing, and remanufacturing.
Now that you have a proper understanding of the 4R's, how should a company introduce them with a favorable outcome?
You see, we care about things that hold value to us. Either financially or emotionally. Others are just things that come of use, so we can get rid of them instantly if required. And here lies the idea.
The Design Principles For Circular Furniture.
Every product will comprise the following elemental approaches.
1. The L And R Approach.
By this, I mean Lifespan and the 4R's. Every circular furniture product needs to consider these two aspects.
For a sustainable design, to begin with, there must be a proper regulation over the use of renewable or recycled material. It should be a part of well-carried research to ensure the material is suitable for repairs, maintenance, movability, longer life, refitting, remanufacturing, and other processes involved in the cycle.
2. The Emotion-based Approach.
In 2017 alone, Americans produced 12.2 Million tons of furniture waste. After the year, the number has only increased (even worldwide).
Why did these things end up in landfills? It is a considerable number, and if you think accurately, you will find out one of the possible reasons.
As I mentioned before, we throw away objects that don't necessarily mean anything to us. So, firms like Ikea plans to incorporate this approach in their circular furniture line.
In an article, they say,
"Each customer creates their own story around how they acquire, care for, and pass on the product. By providing a positive experience through all the phases of this journey, they can build an emotional connection to the product. Another way to create a connection is to include unique details in the design of the product. This could be through possibilities to personalise, meaningful collaborations, shared designer intentions, handmade production, and limited editions."
3. Increase The Functionality Approach.
Consider this approach as a part of the emotion-based approach. Increasing the functionality will result in an increased value, so the chances of throwing it decrease significantly.
The foundation of it can vary. It will create a wide range of options for consumers, as well as we will rely much lesser on space.
For example, Ikea builds a circular furniture line that stores your necessities and grows your food.
Wouldn't it be interesting?
It is only a rough idea of how the functionalities will play in this sector. Consider it to be better as I am no designer.
Circular furniture has a long way to travel and what I can see is a positive approach. It will not surely be a hundred per cent sustainable option or cost-effective (we will come to know about this sooner), but our dependence on resources will decrease to a large extent.
What do you think about this? Will you love owning circular furniture in the future? And do you think of any other approaches that need to be on this list? See you in the comment section.