What if furniture could be designed from waste generated from a furniture factory? To answer this, a project was conceived and undertaken in September 2014 by the Rachana Sansad’s Institute of Environmental Architecture (RSIEA).
Designing furniture from waste materials is not an unfamiliar concept. Many have laid their hands on it. Yet, it is still a style statement and far less a reality. The Institute, which has a long-standing collaboration with Godrej Interio on various design and research projects, took the initiative of conducting visits to the Godrej Interio factories in Shirval, Pune and Vikhroli, Mumbai. A whole range of waste products from particleboards to metal strips and packaging waste were identified and given to students as raw materials with which to design furniture. For Godrej Interio, it was an opportunity to close the loop and see what best could be designed from waste.
Over a period of three months, the project was undertaken as part of a curriculum subject, ‘Sustainable Building Materials’ for Masters students of Environmental Architecture through a design exercise which culminated in one furniture design from waste for every student. The project was conducted by Prof. Tamar Akov, MA in Industrial Design from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel. A visiting faculty at Rachna Sansad, she is an industrial designer specializing in sustainable design and her furniture pieces and design have been featured at galleries and exhibitions in Washington DC, New York, London, and Tel Aviv.
The design was based on a sustainable thinking process: identifying waste materials, their physical and visual properties and the potential they present. Through looking at specific users, identifying a need, and choosing a particular piece of furniture, the students were asked to develop an original design that required minimum manipulation and material – a “function follows (waste) material” action. Modularity, s e l f – assembly , versatility, upcycling and other sustainable properties were encouraged.
The Cartwheel Seating
As an outdoor furniture, this dynamic seating would allow one to choose the side they want to face and sit. The idea was more of a ‘form followed function’. The faulty handles were used with no further changes, a combination of these handles to create a furniture, sustainable and user friendly. The use of scrap in itself was a challenge, the joinery details and the workability, all in all a thorough design workshop that sensitized us to materials and its nature.
A piece of furniture made out of the metal sheet waste produced by Godrej. It is conceptualized through modules of triangles varying in size and color. This arrangement can be used in multiple ways like a chair, table and partition as per user-preference. The triangles can be completely dismantled and the user would be provided with a guideline to assemble it with various permutations and combinations. The modular nature, thus enables ease of assembling and transporting the furniture item.