Last year, furniture company MillerKnoll introduced an eco-friendly makeover of its iconic Aeron task chair that used over two pounds of recycled ocean plastic inside. Today, office furniture brand Humanscale is raising the bar by introducing their new Path task chair.
The $1,200 trail is said to demonstrate a “new way forward” in a greener design, according to press materials. Five years in the making, it contains 22 pounds of recycled plastic. And almost half of that weight is in ocean plastic specifically; The chair uses 10 pounds of reclaimed fishing nets in its structure, trapping waste in the sharp design.
All of this material reuse helps the trail achieve a climate-positive rating — but material is only part of the larger production story. Manufactured in New Jersey, in a solar-powered factory that uses recycled rainwater, the chair’s company saves on carbon emissions by shipping production components worldwide. Each Path chair produced “removes 6 kg of CO2e from the atmosphere, replenishes 15 gallons of water and generates 23 kWh of energy,” according to Humanscale.
“Our slogan of doing less harm isn’t good enough,” says CEO Bob King. “You have to start repairing some of the damage.”
Today, 60% of Humanscale’s products are carbon positive (by sales), as the company intends to make the vast majority or even all of its product lines carbon positive in the future. The Path chair serves as both a new benchmark and a case study on this journey.
Designed by Todd Bracher, the Path chair builds on Humanscale’s existing Ocean chair line, each containing two pounds of ocean plastic. Bracher has been able to continue to push the boundaries, largely due to Humanscale’s investment in its recycled ocean plastics pipeline, as well as some significant design innovations.
At first glance, Path looks upholstered like an office chair from the 1980s. In fact, what you see here is a zero-waste, 3D-knitted “shower cap,” as Bracher jokingly calls it. The knit sleeve squeezes 68 water bottle material into its soft textile. But unlike the office chairs of yore, this textile is knitted with different tensions in each zone to provide different support for different parts of the body. This gives it a quality of performance more in keeping with a modern sneaker than retro office furniture.
A major challenge with using recycled material is that it may not be as strong as virgin material – and this is definitely true of plastics recycled from fishing nets. “You can’t use 100% mesh in a part that the chair relies on for strength,” says King. “It’s a bit difficult.”
Bracher had to juggle where to take advantage of the fishing net plastic and where to use other recycled plastic to maximize the chair’s structural integrity. The spread of plastics was also about aesthetics. Ultimately, Bracher used conventional recycled plastic for touch points, such as the chair’s high backrest and armrests. He then stuck the recycled ocean net plastic in the chair where it wouldn’t be seen. “You don’t see much of this material [because]Normally, these materials don’t look good,” says Bracher, pointing out their dark and sometimes uneven surfaces. “Chances are if you don’t have to see it.”
The base of the chair is made from unpolished aluminium, chosen because it is easy to recycle. Under the seat: Can you see springs, handles, or adjustment knobs to recline the chair back? no Humanscale saved an estimated 15 pounds of materials on the chair because a unique design balances your butt on something like a miniature see-saw. When leaning back, the seat actually only rises a few millimeters to use its own weight as a counterweight. The result: 95% of the population can sit in a Humanscale chair, recline as far as they want, and the chair just stays in place.
All of these elements add up to what Humanscale calls the world’s “most sustainable” work chair. It’s available in 32 color combinations for $1,200, which is in the middle of the task chair continuum (Yves Behar’s popular chair). Sayl chair Retail for about half of these, while Vitra’s Apple-approved Pacific chair costs more than $3,000).
King assumes that competitors will jump on the bandwagon. But he’s not worried. “We think it’s cool, it’s great,” he says. “Instead of influencing 4 to 5% of the industry, we can then influence 100% of the industry. And out of selfishness, we get credit for doing it first — which is okay too.”
https://www.fastcompany.com/90741654/worlds-most-sustainable-office-chair-has-10-pounds-of-ocean-plastic?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner Humanscale’s Path task chair is made from 10 pounds of ocean plastic