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These Plant-Based Chairs are Redefining Sustainability in Furniture Design | Mat Chairs

FDT Bureau

Design duo Foersom and Hiort-Lorenzen in collaboration with furniture brand Norman Copenhagen unveiled the Mat collection, a series of plant-based chairs, during Stockholm Design Week. The collection features two distinct chairs, one crafted from hemp and the other combining hemp with eelgrass, a marine plant akin to seaweed. Know more about it on FURNITURE DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY (FDT).

Breaking away from traditional injection-molded plastic, these chairs boast shells made from sustainable biomaterials, resting on powder-coated steel legs. Presented at Norman Copenhagen’s showroom throughout Stockholm Design Week, the Mat chairs mark the brand’s pioneering venture into the realm of bio-based plastics. The journey to develop these chairs spans over two decades, with Peter Hiort-Lorenzen, co-founder of Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen, initially exploring the use of plant fibers as a sustainable alternative to plastic in furniture during the late 1990s. After years of prototyping and experimentation, the Mat collection represents a significant milestone in material innovation and design.

Collaborating with hemp specialists from the Danish Technological Institute, the production process involves utilizing hemp stems sourced from farms, which typically discard this part of the plant as waste. Similarly, the eelgrass chair incorporates dried eelgrass collected from the Danish coast after washing ashore. To create the chairs’ sheet material, milled hemp and eelgrass fibers are combined and shaped using a specially developed compression machine. The incorporation of a bico binder facilitates recycling at the end of the chairs’ lifecycle, aligning with Norman Copenhagen’s commitment to sustainability.

Hand-sanded for a smooth finish and treated with VOC-free linseed oil, the Mat chairs boast warm, natural tones that enhance their aesthetic appeal. Notably, both the design and production process adhere to a zero-waste approach, with manufacturing offcuts and old chairs repurposed to create new sheet material.

(Image credit: Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen)




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