The interior design industry is experiencing a massive transformation, with sustainability and eco-friendliness taking centre stage. The furniture industry, in particular, is leading the charge, ushering in what we can call an “eco-renaissance.”
The global eco-friendly furniture market was valued at USD 40.6B in 2022. It is predicted to hit a staggering USD 88.0B by the end of 2030, increasing at a CAGR of 8.0% from 2023. This market expansion is mainly driven by rising consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products.
High-defined eco-friendly furniture not only enhances the aesthetics of a house but also redefines the way of responsible living. With an increasing focus on sustainability, it is easy to see why eco-friendly and sustainable furniture design is emerging as an essential aspect of responsible living.
In this article, we will look at some recent sustainable furniture trends.
Sustainable Furniture Trends
Reclaimed and Recycled Material
Using reclaimed and recycled materials in furniture manufacturing has become a trend in sustainable furniture design. Reclaiming is the process of repurposing existing resources rather than extracting and processing new raw materials. Using reclaimed and recycled materials limits the environmental impact of furniture production. It also ensures the longevity and reusability of the products.
However, selecting the right materials is critical to producing robust furniture that you wouldn’t toss away. From steel and aluminum to recycled fabric, plastic, or foam flakes, manufacturers have a wide range of options available when it comes to choosing the material for sustainable furniture.
Natural and non-toxic finishes
With an increasing focus on environmental consciousness, more homeowners and interior designers opt for natural and non-toxic finishes to optimise the room proportions.
Traditional paints and finishes are high in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). These are a range of chemicals and carbon components that form hazardous indoor air pollutants. They can affect human health once they “off-gas” (or, are released) into the air.
On the other hand, biodegradable and non-toxic finishes are low or zero-VOC elements that can significantly improve indoor air quality. They can also reduce health risks, such as allergies, respiratory issues, etc, caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during furniture production.
Most commonly-used natural finishes are derived from renewable sources that also align with the principle of ethical and sustainable material sourcing.
Sustainable Furniture Manufacturing Process
Traditional furniture manufacturing processes have long been considered a leading polluter. This environmental impact is driven by a slew of factors associated with conventional furniture manufacturing approaches. These include unplanned deforestation, waste consumption, resource consumption, biodiversity loss, and more. Deforestation and forest mismanagement are accountable for emitting a sixth of the global carbon emissions. Sustainable furniture manufacturing has emerged as a key trend to mitigate some of its effects.
This practise involves leveraging technology and environmentally responsible practices aiming at reducing adverse environmental impacts and preserving resources.
Key aspects of the sustainable furniture manufacturing process involve:
Using materials with minimal environmental impact has evolved as a key trend in the modern furniture industry. High-end interior design services such as BoxNine7 use sustainable and responsibly sourced materials. This helps fight off the adverse effects of deforestation while also supporting responsible forestry practices. These materials include bamboo, FSC-certified wood, reclaimed or recycled wood, and non-toxic or low-VOC finishes.
Another trend being tremendously adopted to drive sustainability in furniture manufacturing is reducing energy consumption during the production process. Using energy-efficient machinery and renewable energy sources can help drive energy efficiency. Energy efficiency can also be driven by implementing control systems comprising automation, sensors, and software to monitor and regulate energy consumption throughout the production process.
In 2012, Americans were responsible for generating a whopping 12.2MT of furniture waste. 80.2% of this was dumped into the landfill, reported EPA. In the study, EPA revealed that a minuscule 0.3% of the waste that went into the landfills was recycled.
All these data sent shockwaves through the industry, underscoring the dire need for efficient waste management, recycling, and reduction to prevent further environmental damage.
Sustainable manufacturers prioritise and implement closed-loop and lean production processes to ensure waste materials are reused as inputs for new products. These innovative approaches not only minimise waste and streamline processes for maximising production but also help optimise resource usage, reduce environmental impact, and enhance the economic viability of furniture manufacturing.
Integration of Smart and Sustainable Technologies
Sustainability and technology are no longer at odds; rather, the practice of adopting smart technologies is fast gaining momentum among future-focused interior designers and furniture manufacturers. For example:
- Manufacturers now widely use CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines to control and regulate the operation of tools and accurately cut materials. The result is streamlined production operations leading to waste reduction, energy-saving, and enhanced efficiency.
- 3D printing/Additive design, when used along with CAD modelling, enables manufacturers to customise furniture design. It’s cheaper than other manufacturing processes because it allows users to use cheaper materials and create less waste.
- In the furniture industry, AI has emerged as a powerful tool in transforming the way materials are manufactured for furniture. AI employs predictive analytics to analyse a massive trove of data. It enables designers to determine and optimise smart materials with desired properties. Additionally, AI’s capability of digging into supply chain information and production data helps augment efficiency while significantly minimising waste production.
To sum up, as the world increasingly recognises the urgency of environmental conservation, it’s no surprise that sustainable living and sustainable furniture are now in vogue, and technology is leading the charge.
Sohela is an electrical engineer and a self-professed writer with a keen interest in all things tech. When she’s not writing killer content pieces, you’ll find her enjoying tempting foods in her favourite restaurants.