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Sustainable Furniture: Trend or Standard?

In recent years, furniture festivals and exhibits such as the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City and the Milan Furniture Fair have had a growing number of sustainable furniture entries. The overwhelming push with the green movement has made the practice of designing sustainable pieces almost commonplace. The new sustainable furniture market has created many 'trends' such as the use of reclaimed & salvaged materials. Notable examples from this niche market can easily be found on almost any continent around the world.

In America, one interesting material re-use story begins with the furniture design company Uhuru Design which is based in Brooklyn, New York. Uhuru's newest charming line of furniture is called the "Coney Island Line." This six-piece collection is inspired by as well as created from the demolished boardwalk ipe remnants.

If we look across the pond to Great Britain we will find more intriguing work from designer Ryan Frank. His South African roots fuel an intense passion for material reuse motivating the creation of his "free-range" furniture pieces which use primarily locally sourced lumber or salvaged waste-wood. Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek's work with reclaimed materials can also be found in Great Britain in addition to many other European nations. Eek handcrafts his pieces through the use of recycled wood and metals in a way which is commonly described as "poetic functionalism."

Moving to another region, Israel has a hidden gem. All furniture from Ubico Studio located in Tel-Aviv is made from 100% recycled industrial waste, urban waste, and materials from waste disposal centers. It may sound pretty gritty, but this industrial "garbage" deceivingly transforms into chic and functional furniture at Ubico Studio. Our last inspiring reuse story comes from the continent of South America. In Brazil, Hugo Franca is able to acquire roots, trunks and branches from the Pataxo Indians located along the Bahian southern coast. Franca allows these "unusable" portions of trees to become something functional, as well as develop their own personality.

Hopefully this trip around the globe has been an inspiring one and challenges you to think more deeply when you go to purchase your next home furnishing. The strong presence of reclaimed materials in the world of furniture design will hopefully continue to flourish and perhaps someday become less of a novelty and more of an industry standard.