Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many important interior fairs were canceled this year. Which means we cannot deliver the many articles about trends in the lighting, furniture or boutique industry as we planned. At Heimtextil 2020 we were already able to get a good overview of this year’s trends. In this article we want to deal with young start-ups with a sustainability aspect or a special innovation factor. Because one thing became clear to us at the few trade fairs from January to February: Sustainability and clever ideas for this are the big topics for the season and certainly beyond.
We write about four companies that we would have met at Light + Building 2020 and various furniture fairs.
The idea for the first BETOLUX lamp came up in 2010. Company founder Andreas Stipp answered the question about the idea for the concept: “Concrete is beautiful. It is a diverse natural product. And when you show its inner life, it’s incredibly beautiful. Every lampshade is unique. I love contrasts! The heavy concrete becomes light, it’s more the basis of a lamp, but hangs on a cable. And it is no longer gray and cold, but shines – light and bright, gives atmospheric warmth.” He has succeeded in reducing the weight of the concrete, providing it with a light, almost weightless look and making it appear impenetrable. A specially developed, patented process was developed for this, which cuts the lamp body out of the concrete.
At Light+Building 2012, the largest trade fair for lighting and building technology, the company presented its innovative design objects to an international audience for the first time. The starting shot for the manufactory.
BETOLUX lights are exclusively manufactured in-house and all components are subject to strict quality controls. High-quality materials such as stainless steel, solid wood and native moraine gravel are used to manufacture the concrete blocks. Each lamp is unique. Another step was the use of recycled glass as a translucent part of the concrete. This laid the foundation stone for the two product lines: the “PURE” series made of pure concrete with 0/32 grain and the “TRANSLUCENT” series made of translucent glass concrete.
Another sustainability aspect: the lights are deliberately not equipped with permanently installed LED modules, but with replaceable GU10, G9 and E27 bases, so that the light is very easy to maintain. The current product range not only includes pendant lights, but also wall, ceiling, floor and table lamps.
The customer base includes museums, hotels, restaurants, shops and private households. A recent project is the fitting of BETOLUX lights at the museum store of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Another label which we’d like to introduce deals with another aspect of sustainability. We could certainly have met this young company at the Salone del Mobile, but this trade fair was also canceled. The lights of the Italian label “COKI.” not only have a purist, modern design, but also regulate room air thanks to the integrated salt in the lamps.
Coki Barbieri is an architecture and product designer, founder and creative director of the start-up COKI and names the following principles, which she considers when realizing her projects and products. On the one hand there is the practicality of use, if possible an Italian production with materials of natural origin, as well as a health-promoting aspect, if feasible. Furthermore: simple recycling of the components to protect the environment.
The structure of her “Rocklumina” lights is just as resource-saving as the materials themselves thanks to the small number of connections and almost complete exclusion of adhesives (but of natural origin). Glass and salt put together result in a harmonious combination. The salt regulates the excess moisture in the room and so Rocklumina can become a room fragrance dispenser with a few drops of essential oil. The lights are available in different sizes and colors. COKI. recently won the Green Product Award 2020 with this lamp.
Coki Barbieri is a versatile designer. In her portfolio she doesn’t only have lights, but also everyday items such as shelves, wallpapers, benches or pet dwellings. She even has architectural references to offer.
Room in a Box
“Room in a Box” also found love in furniture. A start-up from Berlin in Germany. Gerald Dissen started thinking about new concepts for cardboard furniture in 2011 after visiting a sustainability fair. He was captivated by the idea of designing light, haptically and visually appealing furniture from a renewable raw material. Destiny brought him together with Lionel Palm, who had already gained experience in a corrugated cardboard factory and was enthusiastic about Gerald’s ideas. Together they started their own business in 2013 with corrugated cardboard furniture under the “Room in a Box” label. The two students have now become a team of five, with their own office, workshop and mission.
The aim of the designs of “Room in a Box” is always to find solutions that are not only based on a model made of wood or metal, but that bring additional benefits. The best example is the “Room in a Box” bed: it can be folded, is lighter and can be set up in a few simple steps. Anyone who has ever “moved” a bed knows that this is no pleasure and that is exactly where “Room in a Box” comes in. Another goal is modularity, variability and longevity of the pieces. Right now, they offer the bed design, a shelf system, lamps and various other pieces of furniture.
The shelving system was a special challenge, as it should be visually and haptically more than just a cardboard shelf. The demands on stability, functionality and accuracy of fit were high. But the shelving system can do even more: it is also quite insensitive to water. Liquids can usually be simply wiped away without leaving any residue.
The founders are often being asked whether their furniture can keep up with the traditional wood models in terms of durability. After 8 years of experience, you can clearly confirm this. The furniture is made exclusively from high quality heavy duty cardboard. This cardboard is significantly more resistant than shipping boxes. For example, the bed has a load capacity of 1000 kg per square meter. The furniture is very durable, according to the entrepreneurs, for example, the beds last up to 10 years if used appropriately and should something break, the individual components can always be replaced without any problems, so that the piece of furniture does not have to be disposed of.
For “Room in a Box”, the sustainability aspect is not just a temporary marketing strategy, but has actually been an integral part of the company since it was founded. “Room in a Box” stands for fairness towards the earth and the people on this planet. The products are manufactured with significantly less CO2 emissions than conventional furniture. A tree is also planted for each product ordered.
The corrugated cardboard furniture has another advantage: it is perfect for people who travel a lot or move frequently. The customer base mainly includes young people and students, for whom the price-performance ratio is also a reason for buying. However, the concept of sustainability and environmental awareness often also play a major role in the decision-making process regarding the purchase of new furniture. In this way, more and more young families and environmentally conscious people are discovering “Room in a Box” furniture.
When asked what vision had not yet been realized, the answer was: “A complete room set that offers one or a maximum of two boxes, which is simply and conveniently sent to the customer’s home by post.”
Effi Home Couture
Another interesting and sustainable approach is followed by textile designer Eva Zimmerbeutel. In 2015 she started her own label Effi Home Couture. She studied textile design at the Maastricht Academy of Arts & Design and gained experience in Denmark and Germany before deciding to market high-quality textile design with a new concept.
Her goal was to combine textile design with the biophilic concept (term according to Wikipedia: Biophile design is a concept that is used in the construction industry to improve the connectivity of residents with the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature as well as to improve spatial and spatial conditions). Of course, this implies the use of natural materials. But it goes on. Many of her materials, such as moss or feathers, cannot be industrially woven into a wall hanging or carpet. This brings the high level of craftsmanship that Effi home couture uses to the fore.
For Eva Zimmerbeutel, the value of textiles is reflected in various factors. On the one hand, the potential that nature offers with its multifaceted forms and materials, the environmental and social aspect, in which the traditional weaving trade comes into focus and the resource-consuming industrial production is avoided. This is also linked to the uniqueness of her products, since each piece is unique.
Sustainable thinking is also an integral part of her company philosophy. It is not just about using sustainable and natural materials such as sisal, hemp or linen, but about a holistic approach that consistently prevents waste. Almost no waste material is generated during a manual production process. Her flyers and catalogs are printed on recycled paper with vegan eco ink. Her products are available in her own online shop and she is available as a contact for specialist retailers, architects and interior designers when it comes to implementing biophilic concepts in other projects.
Especially in times when we all feel that our life is finite and this world as well, founders with social and ecological awareness are immensely important for changes in larger companies and for everyone. The goal must be that everyone anchors the aspect of environment and energy in their corporate goals and their lives. All 4 companies live the sustainable approach in different ways. They are a good example of how a good sustainable idea can develop into success. We wish everyone continued success and hope that many will take an example from them..
What do you think about sustainability in the company, sustainability in the interior and at home? Which values are particularly important to you? The ecological, biophile or even the social aspect?