Circular design is the future

The path leading away from the throw-away society starts at the drawing board.

What is circular design, and why is everyone talking about it? The work currently being done at Ekornes can illustrate why this is among the most important measures we can take to create sustainable businesses. But first, a little background:

Circular design is part of a larger system called circular economy. Its purpose is to retain the resources needed to produce a commodity in the economy for as long as possible. One of the ways to reach that goal, is to use sustainable materials that last a long time. The commodity should also be simple to repair, and easy to reuse and recycle. When it finally meets is end of life cycle, and all possible resources are recycled, as much as possible of what remains should go to energy recovery.

- Circular design is about designing for the future, and finding the way out of the throw-away society which is linked to a lot of common goods, says Solveig Gaundal, Compliance & CSR Manager at Ekornes.

The 20 year perspective

Products from Ekornes are made from quality materials, and have always been manufactured to last a long time. They frequently outlast the 10 year warranty issued by the company. Today, product developers at Ekornes are trying to picture what the situation will be like in the future, when today’s furniture is to be dismantled, repaired or reused.

- It is hard to tell how the market and the routines for recycling will look in 20 years, but some facts are indisputable: All furniture needs to be designed for easy disassembling, which makes it possible to replace components for repair, recycling or reuse. We also need to use recyclable materials to the greatest extent possible, in order for them to re-enter the production cycle at a later stage.

One example of this mindset coming to life at Ekornes, is the Stressless® Dining chairs. Most important elements in the dining furniture from Stressless® such as legs, covers and seats are separable, encouraging circular use. If needed, they can be taken apart by the user and replaced. In time, all Stressless® products will be adapted to this design philosophy.

- Think of it as Lego bricks you used as a child. It should be that simple to disassemble and rebuild a truly circular product, says Gaundal.

In Gaundals experience, more and more consumers are looking for sustainable furniture. One of the best choices one could make, is to seek out products designed for circular use.

- Today, EU regulations regarding circular design are on their way, along with new approval routines that can help businesses on their way, giving us a nudge in the right direction. There is no doubt that circular design is a key part of the green transition, says Gaundal.

 In our video series "Forward Thinking", you will meet our internal experts sharing their insights. Espen Kvam, our Director of ICT Operations, Service & Security, tells us more about how Ekornes depends on OT.