Grass roots: Visionnaire’s latest collection is green at heart?


Italian furniture brand Visionnaire put on a city-wide showcase during this year’s Salone del Mobile, including an impressive booth at the Rho Fiera Milano. As well as the debut of the new collection, 2017 also marks the launch of a new sustainability programme that ensures all new products are made using materials with a low environmental impact.

Visionnaire is advertising “Sustainable Style”. All new products will follow an environmentally conscious approach.   We read: ‘For instance, the wood we use for the construction of beds and sofa structures is supplied by companies that are part of certified production chains,’ director Eleonore Cavalli says. ‘The selected trees are cut at the correct age and then replanted. For suspension systems, we use jute webbing instead of elastic straps and petroleum-based materials.’ Similarly, upholstery fabrics are all woven from natural fibres such as flax, wool, cotton and ramie, and processed using only natural plant-based dyes and tints. For leather, chemical-heavy chrome tanning has been abandoned in favour of vegetable dyes.

Is this a change of direction with genuine intentions or a marketing strategy? Is this an honest new beginning towards sustainability or just an other case of “greenwashing”?

Read the full article here.

“Why is Mid Century Modern Furniture ‘So Expensive?'”


Julian Goldklang, core77 23/3/2017


Scandinavian pieces produced in the 1950s and 1960s were made in factories like Carl Hansen & Son, Slagelse Mobelfabrik, CFC Silkeborge Mobelfabrik, etc. out of the best quality rosewood and old growth teak hardwoods. These pieces were handcrafted by artisans who had 20 to 30 years of cabinet making experience under their belts, and their customers paid good money for heirloom pieces that they would own for the rest of their lives.

As proof of the quality, look at the condition these pieces are still in after nearly half a century of everyday use. Look at a piece made in the 1950s or 1960s and you’ll see that structurally and cosmetically, they’re almost always in excellent shape. Well cared for, they will last you another 40 – 75 years.

Additionally, most new production knock offs are made in low-cost factories overseas using low-quality materials. These pieces are merely mirroring the look of good design, without having put in the work to understand ergonomics, craftsmanship, functionality and form. Sitting in an original Arne Jacobsen Egg chair versus a cheap new production “Egg” chair from China, you will instantly be able to tell the difference in comfort and quality.

There are current manufacturers offering that “mid century look” for a bargain basement price, and those manufacturers have set the quality and price bar for furniture extremely low, creating an unrealistic standard for what people believe should be the average price for a “good” piece of mid century furniture.

read more here

Carbon fibre: the wonder material with a dirty secret.


alberto meda: carbon fiber chairs


, The Guardian 22/3/2017

Carbon fibre is increasingly celebrated as a wonder material for the clean economy. Its unique combination of high strength and low weight has helped drive the wind power revolution and make planes more fuel efficient.

Carbon fibre turbine blades can be longer and more rigid than traditional fibreglass models, making them more resilient at sea and more efficient in less breezy conditions.

But carbon fibre has a dirty secret: the hi-tech material is wasteful to produce and difficult to recycle.

Read more here



Tommy Papaioannou – August 2016.

To summarise the thoughts and the suggestions of this research 10 recommendations have been developed and a manifesto has been produced. This is to act as a general guide for furniture designers. Wanting to keep it short and sharp it is generic and not analytical (like most manifestos are). Please note that these suggestions are the result of this research as well as part of years of personal experience.
A short analysis of each point follows bellow to assist towards a better understanding. It has been named MANUFESTO signposting that repairing is a manual process/practice.


  1. Check your materials, their origin and your suppliers.

There are unsustainable sources and practices in the global supplying chain of prime materials. Usually certification and accreditation gives a good indication of origin and practise. Local sourcing is ideal. Very low prices are usually an indication of low quality, hidden costs and bad practises.

  1. Suggest non hybrid-composite materials.

Reinforcing two or more materials of varying properties forms composite or hybrid materials. Hybridisation is a process of incorporating synthetic fibers with that of natural and metallic fibers in order to yield better strength, stiffness, high strength to weight ratio and other mechanical properties. Composites can offer a series of advantages (especially light weight and strength) but are extremely hard to take apart and reprocess for recycling or reuse. Usually they are petrochemically based and are highly toxic and unsustainable.

  1. Suggest mechanical joining rather than: gluing, welding, brazing and soldering.

Gluing and welding is a fast, cheap and very effective way of putting together two separate parts or materials. It makes it impossible to take these elements apart for repairs. It seems impossible but there is a variety of examples of how to put together different parts using mechanical means without problems. Cars, boats, motorbikes, airplanes etc are all assembled with mechanical joints and fasteners. They carry heavy weights and are subject to massive physical forces. They all function and operate sound and safely as long as they are serviced accordingly

4.Make sure parts of your product are separable and easy to disassemble and be replaced.

Ease of disassembly has a cost effect and that can be key to whether repair will take place or not.

    5. Suggest solutions that do not need special tools or custom processes for their assembly and disassembly.

Special tools and processes function as disincentives for people. Ideally a user should be able to replace a part without going to specialists using everyday tools.

  1. Make assembly-disassembly instructions comprehensive and easily accessible.

It is essential for instructions to be comprehensive to the average user and widely accessible via Internet.

  1. Make sure your product will last as long as possible.

Products were made this way for thousands of years. This is a matter of prime materials quality and manufacturing processes. It adds cost on the product but it can be seen as an investment. Quality furniture has a very high resale price.

  1. Replace any heavy footprint material with a light one.

Traditional materials have a lower environmental impact. A life cycle assessment of materials gives a very good picture of their impact. An organisation like the Materials Council can help designers being informed. See image of materials footprint.

  1. Avoid design trends and fashion.

As professor Tim Cooper argues in his ‘Longer Lasting Products’ book: today’s fashion is tomorrow’s junk. Today’s functionality is tomorrow’s dysfunctionality. Today’s beauty is tomorrow’s tawdry reject.

  1. Get informed about materials and processes and inform others.

It is essential to be and stay informed about materials and processes. It is a big part of any designer’s job. Developments and research results are in a constant motion getting updated and introducing new insights and results all the time. Spreading the word is essential for every conscious designer.