Climate-Smart Furniture: The Story Behind a 100% Sustainable Lounge Chair

It has been widely reported since the 2000s that nearly 40% of CO2 emissions in the world’s economy can be attributed to the construction sector. The importance of interiors in this percentage has been underestimated. Common statistics suggest that furniture, fixtures, and equipment only account for 7-10% of a project’s overall carbon footprint. New research shows that the interiors of buildings will have a carbon footprint equal to, if not greater than, their envelope and structure over the average lifespan. Many people are surprised to learn that interior design has done a lot of harm.

The climate crisis is now a major concern in traditional large-scale construction as well as in the design and manufacture of ornamental elements and furniture. Furniture designers and manufacturers now place sustainability at the top of their priorities. This includes using climate-smart materials, recycled materials, and high-quality furniture with a long lifespan. This is done in order to make a positive impact on the environment and to respond to a growing awareness of responsible consumption.

Courtesy of Andreu World
Courtesy of Andreu World
Courtesy of Andreu World
Courtesy of Andreu World

Andreu World, a furniture company, created the first sustainable lounge chair made from a bioplastic. The Nuez Lounge BIO(r), a part of the Nuez Collection, was designed by Patricia Urquiola. It is a unique combination of materials and technologies that aims to make interiors more sustainable, while still maintaining beauty and well-being. We will explore its story below.

Design that blends warmth and character

The Nuez Lounge BIO(r), which is similar to folded paper, is designed as a three-dimensional, enveloping shell. It’s supported by a central, returnable base. The sculptural design of the Nuez Lounge BIO(r) aims to show the technological complexity and unique texture of the shell with a high, elegant backrest. However, comfort and warmth were also top priorities. The lounge chair’s unique geometry, integrated swingarm system, and intricately-designed cushion make it ideal for creating calm environments such as waiting areas and lobbies. You can adapt the design to suit different styles by choosing from four colors and swivel bases made of ash or polished aluminum (white, or black).

Courtesy of Andreu World

Sustainability: Going one step further

Urquiola’s vision behind the chair’s design was not just aesthetic. He wanted to make it a sustainable product in every aspect.

Patricia encouraged us as we worked on designing a new armchair. She asked us to not settle for making another catalog-worthy seat, but to strive for sustainable innovation. – Jesus Llinares, CEO Andreu World

Innovative materials

It was all about innovation when it came to choosing materials. The shell is made of a thermopolymer, which is a thermo-polymer that is natural and non-fossil. It is produced by living microorganisms. The material has a similar sustainability profile to wood and is easily recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable. The challenges and technical complexities of thermo-polymer technology were many. It was necessary, for example, to modify molds using new injection systems to ensure fluidity, adjust the settings on the machines that inject it, and to use hardware solutions to control temperature and humidity.

Courtesy of Andreu World

Circular ONE(r), a new fabric collection made from recycled materials, was created specifically for the chair’s upholstery. The fabrics were produced from textile waste and PET plastics from recycled bottles. They are durable and high quality while having a low environmental impact. The Nuez Lounge BIO (r) swivel bases use FSC(r), 100% wood. This is sustainable wood from reforested forests.

Courtesy of Andreu World

Circular economy

In both design and production, the armchair was built with circularity in mind. The armchair’s components – including the foam, fabric, shell and base – needed to be disassembled easily for reuse or recycling after their useful lives. To facilitate separation, all components are joined together without adhesives or glues.

Andreu World was my partner in implementing a circular approach to Nuez. We focused not only on the materials but also on simple disassembly options that would prolong the product’s lifespan. – Patricia Urquiola

Courtesy of Andreu World

Minimal carbon footprint

These measures were all taken to reduce the product’s carbon footprint. To really understand their environmental impact, carbon emissions from the chair were quantified. The average chair manufactured today is between 30-60kg CO2e. However, the Nuez Lounge BIO(r), which includes both transport and energy emissions, produces only 1,94Kg CO2e.

Courtesy of Andreu World

A healthier interior design industry

Sustainability is not a problem that can only be solved by large-scale construction. This must be considered in all aspects of design, regardless of the scale. With a climate emergency only getting worse, manufacturers must take responsibility for their actions and how they act. Even though some production processes may be more expensive and complicated, innovation and the adoption of climate-smart design will eventually lead to a cleaner and greener future.

Courtesy of Andreu World