Companies and designers with a clear eco-profile

Spotlight on sustainability

Flokk stand 2019

Swedish furniture companies and designers are often recognized as leaders on sustainability. A living local manufacturing and a love of nature and its materials, but also awareness and demand from consumers and the government - these are just some of the suggested reasons why Swedish furniture companies have come further than most. 

To highlight some examples of best practice, we turned to some companies and designers associated with Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair and asked what they are doing to promote a circular transition and more sustainable production?

 

Interview with Kerstin Lagerlöf, Marketing Manager at Tarkett

Tarkett

 

Tarkett

When it comes to sustainable consumption, what do you think are the modern consumers’ views and expectations?
- End consumers have long demonstrated a love of natural materials, and that focus remains, along with an interest in what the products are made from and what they emit.
- Recycling and climate change have not been top of private shoppers’ minds historically. Although we’re seeing a marked change, levels of knowledge about sustainability remain low. Taking refurbishments as an example, many people still have a kind of “throw-away” mentality and want everything to be “fresh and new”. Instead, why not restore what you have and choose materials that last when buying new products.
 
What is Tarkett doing to bring about a circular transition and sustainable production? Please give us your best example!
- Tarkett is working intensively on true recycling, by which we mean that the materials we produce can be taken back and recycled into new flooring. This work is not just about the choice of raw materials and advanced recycling techniques, but also having a practical system that allows customers to bring back offcuts and old flooring, for example. It takes time to get all this in place, but we’re fully committed and already have several recycling schemes under way.

- Another vital move is to switch from fossil to bio-based/renewable raw materials, and here we can point to our new iQ Natural, made from bio-attributed vinyl, which was launched a year ago.
 
Where do you think we/the industry will be in 10 years’ time?
- The construction and interior design industry has a huge role to play in society’s transition to a circular economy. We expect it’ll become standard for the industry’s waste to be taken and turned into raw material for new products. We’re going to see all sorts of new systems for collection and recycling, and new products will contain a large proportion of recycled raw material as a matter of course.

- A small carbon footprint will also be a must, while both the increase in recycling and a continued switch to bio-based raw material will be the industry’s core drivers. We strongly believe in the power of cooperation between stakeholders within and across industries to make all this happen. In fact, we already have examples of collaborations with partners way outside our own industry, aimed at achieving our climate and environmental goals.
 
Will Tarkett be holding any activities during Stockholm Design Week?

- Unfortunately, our new showroom in Stockholm won’t be opening until later in the spring, so this year we’re going fully digital – a relatively good option in a year like this.

 

Interview with Christian Lodgaard, Senior Vice President, Products & Brands at Flokk

Flokk

Flokk

When it comes to sustainable consumption, what do you think are the modern consumers’ views and expectations?
- This topic has seen a major rise in both awareness and expertise in recent years. There’s been a marked shift from recognizing its importance to focusing on how we can actually make demands that drive progress in the right direction. The pandemic has certainly accelerated the trend. The psychology is only natural – the pandemic illustrates how “small and vulnerable” we all are, dependent entirely on the world around us being able to “heal”. And so we’re more focused on how we can live our lives and do our jobs in a way that helps society as a whole to move forward. In this climate, the winning brands are those with a good reputation for sustainability and quality.
 
What are Flokk doing to bring about a circular transition and sustainable production? Please give us your best example!
- We employed our first environmental manager in 1990, drew up environmental criteria for product development in 1993 and introduced post-consumer recycled plastic into our products in 1995, plus we were the first in the world to publish EPDs. For a manufacturing company like ours, the biggest battles are still fought in the design phase. Of course it’s important to make good quality products that perform well, really last and can be repaired when the time comes, so they always look too good to throw away. But there’s more to it than that. We also need to design the products so they have the lowest possible environmental footprint per unit produced. With furniture, the key factor by far is material use, and the most effective way of dealing with this is to make use of waste and recycled materials that have already been part of a product at least once. By taking this approach, we can create furniture and clean up the planet, all at the same time. It was true back in 1995 and it remains so to this day.

- We’re still gathering the data, but we believe that in 2020 we used 800 tonnes of recycled plastic in our production. That’s waste that was transformed into new, top-quality products. The target for 2021 has been upped to 1,000 tonnes. The RH New Logic chair is over 60% old scrap, there’s a new version of the HÅG Capisco Puls made from old snow poles and we have a new product in the pipeline that has one third the carbon footprint of its predecessor, which was already low.

Where do you think we/the industry will be in 10 years’ time?

- We’re going to see major changes. Emitting carbon dioxide has to be made prohibitively expensive, more companies need to switch to 100% renewable energy and the use of material resources needs to become expensive. The keywords here are renewable and circular.

- Circular or recycled materials have to become the norm and that’s going to affect the aesthetic in design and architecture, as it produces greater variation. Colors and surfaces can’t be exactly the same every time, so we need to develop an aesthetic that celebrates this variation. It may be that some materials will only be available seasonally: for example, snow poles in spring, ocean plastic in the summer and bio-based materials in fall and winter.

- We have to become better at reusing and repairing where necessary, and the industry has a huge role to play in enabling and encouraging this. Circular business models are being developed, but offers such as exchanging your old phone for a new one every other year have no place in a sustainable society. Circular models have to be based around ensuring that products are used for longer.

Will Flokk be holding any activities during Stockholm Design Week?

- Yes, we’ve got our own talk on Friday, February 12.

 

Interview with Daniel Svahn, designer and interior architect

Daniel Svahn

Daniel Svahn 

When it comes to sustainable consumption, what do you think are the modern consumers’ views and expectations?
- I think as the levels of awareness and ambition grow, so do the expectations. However, in many cases, manufacturers need a lot more knowledge, honesty and self-reflection if they’re to help achieve consumers’ ambitions and the necessary environmental improvements. 

What are you doing to bring about a circular transition and sustainable production?
- In terms of my creative work, I’ve taken what may be a permanent break from the mass production side of the design world to focus instead on developing, making and creating new and interesting objects from old and reclaimed materials. I firmly believe that this is the future for designers and interior architects, coupled with a more widespread emphasis on recycling materials and furniture instead of designing/manufacturing/buying new. The circular era is here and that requires a complete shift in systems, ambitions and paradigms. 

Where do you think we/the industry will be in 10 years’ time?
- Hopefully, we’ll look back in a few years and congratulate ourselves on successfully transforming our lives, economy and consumption patterns in order to fulfil the global Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, we should be looking forward and committing to an even better future for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

- Many companies will probably have either disappeared or completely restructured their business in order to keep up with developments and embrace economic growth that doesn’t cost the earth. I imagine that’s where the real challenge is going to lie – how do you break away from the outdated way of doing things and take a leap into a new world with both feet. 

Will you be holding any activities during Stockholm Design Week?
- The only thing really is that my degree project “A New Paradigm”, for my Master’s in Spatial Design at Konstfack, will be part of the Ex-Works exhibition at Möbeldesignmuseum. Go and take a look. The exhibition and the rest of the furniture museum are well worth a visit.

- You’ll also be able to see the work I did last fall for the City of Stockholm, where I designed and made new furniture from a supply of their own reclaimed material. The project, called ReMake, explored how the City could make creative use of its old furniture, giving it a new lease of life in a fresh and interesting form, rather than just scrapping it all. 

 

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair collaborates with Swedish Wood as a Sustainability Partner. Through the Sustainability Partnership, Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair and the exhibiting companies are keen to provide a platform from which to showcase the unique position of Scandinavia, and not least Sweden, as a leader on sustainability in the furniture and lighting industry. The aim is to provide inspiration and information on working and living sustainably.

 

Sustainability Partner