Sustainable furniture design nowadays are not to be connected with the boring and disdainful rustic eco aesthetic that it once was, but rather the opposite; today it is beautiful, attractive, exclusive and furthermore it can improve our health and well-being.
In the upcoming articles, we would like to show you some practical examples of companies, products and innovative developments that have this one thing in common: an honest and profound confrontation with the topic sustainability beyond marketing clichés and neglected advertisement promises.
Thonet – Pioneer on the topic „sustainability“ in the furniture industry
In this article we will present a company with a long tradition in furniture manufacturing, which at the same time is a pioneer in the execution of sustainable furniture design and production: Thonet.
Up until today the company is most famous for Thonet 214 – the so called “Coffee house chair”, which was designed by Michael Thonet in 1859.
The chair became a furniture icon and is still considered to be one of the most accomplished industrial products in the world – and honestly, who has never sat on one?
With the coffee house chair the history of the modern furniture piece began:
At the core of the 214 was a new technique of bending massive wood, which Michael Thonet perfected in the 1850´s and thereby made volume production possible. Thonet had a genius distribution idea: in a box of one square meter 36 demounted chairs were packed, sent around the globe to be assembled at the final destination.
By the year 1930 the coffee house chair had been produced more than 50 million times and sold and exported all over world.
Design, quality, origin of the used materials and durability – important indicators of sustainability in furniture.
Because of the used materials, the high quality and the associated durability, Thonets products were ecologically sound before sustainability was even a topic. Thonet-chairs last for decades thanks to their high-grade workmanship and because of their timeless aesthetics they never lose their appeal:
The best example of that is an additional delivery of cantilever chairs S 43 to the German National Library Leipzig after more than 70 Years! The German National Library was first equipped with this Thonet classic in 1932. Even under intensive usage the chairs have lasted and in the new millennium in 2002 the old classic was still available for delivery! This certainly is the best evidence of the Thonet classics durability. Thonet forms an opposite pole to the common throw away mindset in the furniture business. In Germany alone up to 7 million tons of furniture end up in the trash every year!
Thonet – first company in the furniture business certified with Green Globe
Considering this kind of corporate philosophy it was a natural step for Thonet to anchor ecological, economical and social sustainable criteria even further in the company:
As first company in the furniture business Thonet was certified with Green Globe – the certificate for sustainable and environmental friendly management.
Green Globe is an internationally recognized standard and grades companies´ conduct when it comes to sustainability. There is no comparable certification system as Green Globe not only grades environmental-friendliness but also economical and social factors in companies.
The guidelines for sustainable conduct were thereby integrated in Thonets quality management.
This is what Thonet themselves have to say about their most important sustainability principles: “Our products are durable and do not harm the environment, neither in their production nor their recycling. New products are added to our portfolio only after a careful examination of the recyclability of the used materials, the share of machining and environmental friendliness, and the sustainability of the materials being used. As of 2015 we obtain 100% of our electricity from environmentally sustainable energy sources. “
These main principles are flanked by numerous additional measures. One example is that the company obtains 100% of its power from ecological, sustainable energy sources. Through investments in recycling facilities for solvents Thonet are furthermore contributing to the reduction of their ecological footprint. Various other initiatives in sustainable product development, production, sourcing and management are to be found here:
Thonets product line „Pure Materials“ – sustainable furniture on the highest level
The product line „Pure Materials“, which was introduced in 2012, underlines this direction in the production strategy in a consequent way and is pronounced particularly sustainable.
All the products in this line are made exclusively out of materials that secure an extra careful handling of nature and its resources. It can even be experienced while using the furniture.
That is also why wooden parts, which come from sustainable forestry, are being kept natural or oiled. You can feel the structure of the wood. The upholstery is made out of distinctive, scarred leather, which was environment-friendly dyed and is extremely durable.
For the plastic mesh covering on some of the products a special polyester material is used, which contains 30 % recycled material and can be re-recycled.
The steel pipe under frames on the cantilever chairs are optionally nickel-plated instead of chrome.
It is a deliberate design feature that the pieces in the “Pure Materials” line should become their own patina and thus their exclusive, individual and personal note – a wanted effect and as we see it a good and healthy counter pole to the glossy mass furniture market.
The product line holds both newly drafted classic Thonet pieces like the already mentioned coffee house chair Thonet 214, the cantilever chair S 33 or the S 64 N and also completely new furniture designs like the Thonet bentwood sofa 2000.
Thonet cantilever chair S 33 in the „Pure Materials“ edition (steel pipes and natural buffalo leather)
Everything at Thonet is customized, so the customer can combine fabric, colours and materials freely even when only ordering one piece.
Thus, if you want to set yourself up with durable, timeless furniture pieces with the highest demand on design, sustainable and produced with exclusively ecologically viable materials, pieces, which furthermore underlines your own style and personality and gives an individual expression to every room, you should go to Thonet.
We say: thumbs up for the sustainability demands and foremost the practical implementation at Thonet.
Website: Thonet official website