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BETTER FACTORY

This project is about developing strategies for redesigning the Boston desk chair into a circular design. Approximately 10 million tons of office furniture goes to the landfill each year in European Union alone. The same weight as 75 cruise ships we trash on annual basis. With the EU-funded project Better Factory there is worked on developing design strategies to avoid office chairs from being brought to the dump.

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The production of furniture is – like the fashion industry – an industry including lots of manual labor. The fabrics are sewed by hand on sewing machines, the foam is glued manually to the wooden seats and the upholstery is done per person using a staple gun. To keep the industry competitive in Europe, productivity must increase. Comfrac is creating digital measuring tools and making a paperless production line that contributes to the competitive position of Antares.

Current manufacturing

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A common sold desk chair contains around 40 different components and is made from more than 7 different type of materials, making it labor intensive to separate, replace and re-use chairs at the end of life. The Boston chair is a commonly sold desk chair from the portfolio of Antares. The foam is glued to the wooden back rest and for upholstering the fabrics more than 300 staples are used. Currently, when the foam is removed from the seat, it leaves chunks of foam on the back rest and the foam gets damaged. Taking all the staples out of the seat takes a lot of time. How can this design get circular?

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MOOSE chair prototyping

 

One design strategy is to tension the fabric instead of stapling it. The fabric is the part of the chair that wears down quickest. By having it tensioned instead of glued or stapled, it can easily be replaced without damaging other parts of the chair.

The part of a chair that wears down first is the upholstery. Another big motive to replace chairs it to improve ergonomy or the identity of the client. Enrichers explored developing chairs with a wooden shell and dents on the side. Mesh, fabrics, straps or inflatables and be fixed with the dents as an open structure. Hereby the ergonomy, look-and-feel and repair of the chairs can easily be executed by only replacing the top layer of the chair and keeping  the base and shell.

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MOOSE chair used as open upholstery platform

Furniture brand Antares, technology firm Comfrac and design studio Enrichers joined forces to get furniture manufacturing ready for the circular economy. Better Factory is commissioned by European Union and is a 16 months Horizon 2020 project. It is mentored and guided by In4Art, Inova and Waag Society.

Interested in having MOOSE chairs for your company? Contact us for more information. 

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