Sustainable Office Furniture: Promoting Circular Design in the Workplace
Interior architects and designers have often claimed that a well-designed office space will translate into greater productivity, creativity and worker satisfaction—yet the impact is greater than most tend to imagine. Recent studies suggest that good design positively impacts company culture, fosters a sense of community and creates a healthy, happy and motivating environment. In fact, it directly influences the recruitment and retention of talent: “workplace design significantly increases the attractiveness of employers to potential candidates.” Proper lighting, a flexible layout and biophilic features are all important factors to consider during the planning stage. But to fully address user comfort and well-being, these must be combined with excellent furniture design. After all, integrating high-quality ergonomic pieces is a simple way to boost mood and enhance functionality and aesthetics when creating or redecorating the workspace.
So, what makes good office furniture? Some keywords immediately come to mind: comfort, appearance, versatility, flexibility, resistance, durability, etc. And, of course, we cannot overlook sustainability. Although the concept may have started out as a buzzword, today it guides—or, rather, should guide—everything we do; The planet is warming at unprecedented rates and no industry can be indifferent. Every year, 8.5 million tons of office furniture finds its way into US landfills, becoming the primary source of furniture waste. Therefore, when looking for eco-friendly alternatives, designers have the responsibility to question their origins, lifespan and future use, as well as be mindful of energy, resource consumption and carbon emissions. Not only to achieve environmental goals, but also to promote human health (which ultimately goes hand in hand).
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that it’s not only about the furniture, it’s also about the manufacturer – just as it’s not only about the end result, but rather about the entire planning, fabrication and delivery process. In that sense, office furniture manufacturers must address sustainability at every stage, and each of their products should be certified or labeled accordingly for designers to properly assess them. Andreu World, for instance, meets these criteria while providing good designs that enable users to enjoy the spaces they inhabit in an intelligent and healthy way. The global furniture company complies with the highest circular sustainability standards, designing with a minimal carbon footprint, adhering to the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design framework and contributing to the economy.
Anticipating the circular economy
The C2C certification is a globally recognized measure for products that are safe, circular and responsibly made. It evaluates their components according to environmental and human health, recyclability and compostability, along with manufacturing processes. The most important requirements to be met include: conceptual waste eliminator with 100% restoration and upcycling, operating with clean energy, safeguarding water as a precious resource, and respecting human and natural systems, among others. This was explored 20 years ago by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, one of the most influential books on the philosophy of environmentalism within industrial production. Andreu World continues to put the text into practice, with 100% of its 6,830 products audited and certified with the C2C seal.
Following Ecodesign guidelines, the furniture manufacturer aims to tackle every aspect of sustainability in all stages of an object’s life cycle, from the first sketch to delivery, from production to reuse. How? By implementing a series of strict measures: using wood from controlled and reforested forests, with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certification; investing in R&D&I to produce sustainable materials, from 100% recycled and recyclable plastics to bio-based polymers of natural origin; And converting waste into by-products or raw materials for other industries to achieve zero waste. All of this while consuming clean energy and remaining carbon neutral.
4 eco-designed furniture pieces
Implementing each of these sustainability principles, Andreu World provides office furniture that is circular, C2C certified and, at the same time, timeless and aesthetically appealing. We present 4 examples below, diving into their structure, materials and eco-friendly components.
In Out Office by Alfredo Haberli
The In Out Office collection comprises sofas, poufs and tables with different panel heights. With wheels, a versatile shape and different design options, every component can move around freely, adapt to various spaces, and form practically endless configurations and compositions -individual or in group – in a way that is fast and easy for the user. Coupled with excellent soundproofing abilities, the system is ideal for flexible, dynamic and hybrid work environments. Each furniture piece is 100% sustainable, using circular materials such as recycled fabric for upholstery and organic-based melamine for table tops.
Maria by Philippe Starck
In the Mariya sofa collection, the plywood board is the protagonist of an elaborate construction method inherited from the cabinetmaking tradition. Designed not to use any mechanical joining system, it is structured by joints and interlocking made of wood without a single screw, as well as by arms that create a storage system for increased functionality in the office. Because all components (shell, foam, fabric and wooden elements) are easily separable, recyclable and sustainably sourced, the design is completely circular and has a minimal carbon footprint.
Rizo by Rodolfo Dordoni
Rizo chairs, armchairs and lounge chairs stand out for their attention to detail. The soft-edged ash wood frame, characterized by precise woodwork, features smoothly resolved joinery and seamlessly integrates the upholstered backrest and seat – both of which come in a variety of fabrics, including eco-leather. With their simple lines, timeless design and elegant, contemporary style, the wooden chairs express a nature-inspired warmth that enhances visual and physical comfort in the workplace. They are also highly versatile and can adapt to a wide range of office settings, formal or informal. Altogether, the chairs are ecodesigned and each component is recyclable at the end of its useful life.
Liceo by Piergiorgio Cazzaniga
The Liceo collection, which includes armchairs and lounge chairs, blends craftsmanship and formal beauty. Made of solid beech wood, the structure is created with the mastery of the cabinetmaker and is combined with upholstery or braided rope to impart a classic elegance and, at the same time, fit a contemporary aesthetic. Liceo is designed to ensure resistance for even the most demanding uses and can serve many functions in any workspace. Of course, the collection also contributes to sustainability; 100% certified FSC® wood is used for its construction and every element is easily separable for a second life, following the principles of the circular economy.
In a context where furniture waste is a multi-million-ton problem, each component should be sustainably sourced and designed to be recycled, reused and repurposed. Office furniture cannot fall behind; with a little ingenuity, it can take a definitive step towards circularity and promote worker well-being in the process.
For more sustainable furniture designs, visit Andreu World’s website or explore our product catalog.