Green Furniture

Certified Sustainable Wood
Murmur ‘furniture’ and it opens up your imagination with vivid pictures of retro and modern furniture in sundry materials. Wood, fabric, steel, glass and processed material like Methacrylate, high-density fiber—the most common being wood—accepted world over for its natural charms. There are options to meet the fancy and demands, and the choices are good for you, for me, good for everyone. Let’s say the world needs trees—they help with the natural balance. They hold the soil together, they cool up the planet surface and they help with the food chain.

We have been debating over using wood from sustainable harvested forests, sustainably harvested tree farms, and reclaimed wood being the main sources. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and its largest forest certifier, the Rainforest Alliance, is the most widely used standard for sustainable forestry. Relating to the theme, I found a couple of designs that appealed for the right reasons…

The Baltic coffee table rocks for its antique features and green theme. Crafted with harvested Solid Wood-Durian Timber, it goes well with the light hearted and conventional buff alike…the ring-shaped handles on the drawers look great, and the low-slung design demands attention….

Then we have the Tua Glass Doors Media Stand—a unique combo of utility & bygone charms—the furniture retains antique looks in modern form. Intelligent furniture….

Turning away from antique looks, lets focus on contemporary green furniture….the Loft media center, for instance. Designed diligently to store and display, it carries elements of sound architecture to make flawless furniture. Also deserves a mention is the Loft Modern Dining Table with its watertight features that add a contemporary touch to the overalls..

Furniture made with reclaimed materials

A stitch in time saves nine. Wood, as precious as it is, if taken care of, can last for a long time. Remember the legendary wood furniture tales passed on by grannies as it being preserved since long time. I think there is great substance in preserving wood. Why shouldn’t we make good use of all the wood that’s already out there? It’s the right way and many designers are doing a wonderful job out of reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed wood is the wood that usually is retrieved from old furniture, houses and other wooden articles, as also from left over sraps in a factory. Some stuff even comes from the bottom of the riverbed, wooden logs that sink to the bottom while being transported to the sawmill, and even from the bottom of the man-made reservoirs. Either way, furniture made from reclaimed wood is a great example of resource efficiency, but usually comes in shorter supply. The Rainforest Alliance has a Rediscovered Wood Certification label to look for.

Spacify line of AZCAST collection is committed to crafting furniture out of reclaimed material, crafting attractive and useful furniture and goods that are ultimately recyclable themselves; indeed, when an unfinished product is rejected, it is simply recast and used again.

Most of its designs are worth mentioning…the 5-Star Glass Dining Table, for instance. Made from aluminum used in aircraft parts (among other sources) is hand-poured into casts to produce the desired moldings. The clean minimal design hits a cord with furniture buffs as each piece is hand-molded, hand-poured, and hand-finished.

Bamboo—great grass for furniture!

Bamboo is a highly aesthetic grass used to decorate, build and landscape. It represents a family of grasses that range in size from a blade, growing up to many feet, and varying in color from jade green to maroon stripes. It grows incredibly fast and is highly versatile. As a matter of fact, it is the favorite with environmental designers and builders.

The beauty of bamboo lies in its flexibility. It can be flattened into flooring, shaped into furniture, compressed into veneers, sliced up to make window blinds. To get to extremes, you can even build a whole house out of it. Using bamboo in buildings earns architects and builders LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs) points. Most organic bamboo is grown in China, sometimes grown with few or at best, no pesticides. Because it grows fast, it is much easier to maintain a healthy bamboo forests. This also means it uses a lot of water, however, and harvesting too fast can deplete soil fertility. But for the most part, bamboo is one of the greenest materials around.

In line with the concept, I recently came across Spacify’s Legare furniture and makes it here for all eco-friendly reasons. Made with Birch-plywood, it is worth noting that producing plywood yields 8-10 times more usable wood from a log as against solid lumber. Plywood furniture has greater potential to outlast solid wood furniture. And the energy utilized in converting wood from a raw material to a finished product is minuscule as compared to any other industrial material. Some examples….

The Dante Straight Desk made from 13-ply Baltic Birch Plywood is an FSC-certified 60” desk offering generous room for storage & study. A stupendous test carried out at Entela Labs showed that the furniture managed to load an incredible 2000 pounds (one ton) of shot bags and weights on Legare’s Corner Desk with no structural damage!

Plywood furniture has been around for a little over 100 years and its manufacturing techniques have been explored by a handful of designers including Aalto, Eames, Danko, and Pfeiffer. The Enrico straight desk goes on to prove just why. The modular design allows you to lock multiple units together to form a single, rigid workspace. The assembly is easy—without screws and bolts.

The Bice Peninsula adds that extra bit of deep handy desk space and is great for two-way meetings. The 31″ Peninsula adds approx 31″ of deep, end-cap width to an existing desk. The asymmetric panels are reversible, allowing left/right-hand unit to be attached to either side any desk or to an extension.

The Zita Modern Media Stand is a modular design flaunting four 8-high bays for audio/video components. The top can hold Plasmas/LCDs up to 50 cm in size. For surround sound systems, the center divider is recessed to allow a small center-channel speaker to be ideally placed under the TV and it has storage for more than 120 DVDs or 170 CDs on its four outer shelves.

Recyclable and disassemblable

The world would look so much better, and us, we would feel a little more at ease with green furniture speaking the universal language of eco-friendliness. The concept gains popularity for its equanimity and practicality, FSC certified furniture rings for its obvious implications on mother earth. Means products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization established to develop guidelines and certification processes for ecologically sustainable forestry.

Some examples of these products would be ones that can be easily disassembled, arranged, and recycled once they have lived their lives. Concrete furniture is out of fashion, in this context, and it means furniture that can’t be separated, may not be very inspiring. If it can’t be easily disassembled it’s probably a sign it can’t be repaired easily.

For obvious reasons, we need to take a close look at the recyclable furniture we wish to buy. Is it robust, easy to assemble & most important—is it certified? Spacify’s Legare collection looks smart and I would like to highlight a few models…

The norms being set, I like the Lucia Designer Extension Desk for its easy looks, easy assembly, practicality and robustness. Made with 3-Ply Baltic Birch Plywood, the Panels are asymmetric and reversible and the Bridges are designed to pull two desks together to make larger workspaces for two or more users. And yes, its really easy to get together….

Lia Office Corner Desk deserves a mention too. The corner desk is available in two dimensions; and holds it there; Entela Labs showed that the furniture managed to load an incredible 2000 pounds (one ton) of shot bags and weights with no structural damage! Adjustable shelving holds up to three 12″ shelves and three 24″ shelves. Great design….less fuss…its FSCfied as well…

Low-toxicity furniture

Have you ever noticed new furniture or car with its peculiar odor—it’s what they call off gassing, emanation of volatile matter of any kind from materials into habitable areas. It’s not relatively new; when you buy a piece of furniture and set it down, it tends to off gas which is all right if the materials used are non-synthetic. Some synthetic materials are toxic and can be linked to birth defects, and even cancer.

If your house is well insulated, toxins tend to circulate in the air and can be harmful. If you have children around and even pets that lick as a habit, it can be dangerous. One good idea while buying furniture is to check for ‘‘Green guard certification’’. It will ensure that you bring home low-toxicity furniture.

Also, try to explore naturally treated furniture with natural wood finishes, or biologically tanned leather and organic cotton. Here are some fine examples of green grade furniture,
Lectern Table Mobile Base is indoor air quality Certified® by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute under the GREENGUARD Standard for Low Emitting Products. The metal mobile Base is a well-structured creation while top is made of smooth wood and is noteworthy for its unusual shape and fine edge all around. Meets or exceeds ANSI/BIFMA standards soft edge options protects the user (as well as the furniture) from damage.

Team Table X-Base with metal pedestal and wood veneers top makes a style statement, made available in four Surface/Edge colors. It is designed to meet ANSI/BIFMA standards; soft edge options protect the user (as well as the furniture) from damage. Wood fiber core and veneer surface are 100% post-industrial recycle content.

Jack Solo Office Table is right for tight spaces. The standard design with black modesty panel is intuitive to use and comes with four braking casters for mobility and control. The ADA compatible design has Single activation lever for flip-flop motion located under work surface.