WORDS Sean Weldon
Circular design was a theme at the core of last year’s Salone del Mobile – and we asked Sean Weldon, cofounder of SA-based initiative Circular Squared, to pick five noteworthy sustainable designs.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of circularity, in a nutshell, it’s based on the principles of the circular economy, which replaces the traditional, linear “take-make-dispose” model with a closed-loop system. More specifically, circular design considers the entire life cycle of a product, including its creation, use and end-of-life phases. It focuses on creating products that are durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable, aiming to eliminate waste and reduce resource consumption – but it also takes this one step further by joining the dots between makers of sustainable products with those who produce waste. It’s about designing products in a way that allows their materials to be continually cycled back into the production process, rather than ending up in landfills or incinerators.
It was also a concept at the heart of Salone del Mobile this year. The 61st “Planet-Centric” edition of Milan’s iconic furniture and design fair showcased sustainability and circularity with themes such as re-use, regeneration and energy-saving. What you see here are the five products that stood out.
The plastic used to make the Superpop coffee tables –designed by Paolo Cappello for Miniforms – is first sorted by type, then melted at low temperatures. This process reduces its environmental impact while maintaining its material characteristics, for a green, circular approach.
VIPP RUBBISH BIN
This bin is, quite literally, rubbish – it’s made from production waste that’s been reprocessed and transformed into a fibre material. A renewable take on the iconic Vipp15 pedal bin, the Rubbish replaces 3.7kg of steel with plastic and sawdust that would otherwise be sent to a trash-burning facility.
MAGIS RE AIR-CHAIR
Originally designed by Jasper Morrison for Magis in 1999, it was the first single-piece chair conceived and designed to be produced with air-moulding technology. An instant minimalist modern masterpiece – balanced, dynamic, stackable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use – this new version is made entirely from post-consumer plastic. Highlighting the design’s sustainable mission, the chairs were presented without the addition of dyes during production.
This remake of Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair (above, third from left) is an example of work being done by Material Magic – a collaboration between Minerva Art Academy and IHOG. The project uses alternative natural binders such as magnesium and potato starch, as well as hemp fibres, to create new source material.
PEEL STACKING CHAIR
Made by Prowl Studio, Peel is a 100%-compostable chair made from a composite derived from maize and hemp fibres. Its structural frame is made from a hemp-based bioplastic that’s manufactured like any other conventional plastic, but which can be industrially composted. “It serves its purpose,” according to Prowl Studio, “but only for as long as it needs to.”