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This is what designing for the future means for your furniture

May 15, 2018 10:17 am | Door Ahrend

Are you in need of different furniture because of changing demands in your office environment? We got news for you: new is not always better! Because Ahrend designs as modular as possible, separate parts can be easily replaced or re-used. Thus, a small adjustment can create a big change. Coordinator CSR & Sustainability Diana Seijs tells us more about these smart solutions – that also contribute to a better environment!

A second life because of recycling

At this point, Ahrends’ focuses mainly on the re-use of existing furniture. ‘It involves furniture that is averagely 8 years old, but there are also outliers that are already 30 years old,’ says Diana. When Ahrend re-uses furniture, they look for a new application of it. ‘A desk becomes a table for meetings and a cabinet becomes a lounger. It can be a functional or an esthetic upgrade.’ But, emphasizes Diana, even though it is esthetically interesting to upgrade a stack of old carpet tiles into a seating element when we are talking about sustainability, it is not Ahrends’ approach. ‘By making such adjustments, separate parts cannot be recycled later on. That is why we build products as modular as possible.’ This way it is easy to disassemble and replace separate parts. ‘Designing for the future, is how we call that.’

Looking into the rebuilt future

A good example of designing for the future is the Ahrend 500, the first modular and fully recyclable desk of Ahrend. When the model was introduced in 2002, it was a desk that could not be adjusted in its height. But because it was designed with regard to the future, with a simple adjustment the desk could respond to the need for flexible sit-standing desks.

De Ahrend 500 kan met een kleine aanpassing omgebouwd worden tot in hoogte verstelbaar bureau.

The example shows that modularity is the most important thing in designing for the future. ‘Your response to changing office needs is more flexible and even 10 years later, you can still replace parts. That is why you have to make well thought-out decisions in the design phase. If you do something wrong in that phase, it can be a problem in the entire chain.’ Therefore Ahrends’ designers have an important task. With their knowledge and expertise, they design a product that is circular in all phases of the process and that remains circular in the future. ‘Because that is what Cradle to Cradle is about,’ says Diana. ‘You want the product to be safe for every user, short and long term: from the producer to the buyer, the re-user and the recycler. It cannot happen that toxic substances get released when a cabinet gets de-lacquered.’

Ahrend Re-use

To get the most out of the re-usability of resources and products,  Ahrend Re-use was started in the Netherlands. Diana: ‘Ahrend Re-use takes existing products back and gives them a new life by completely revitalizing them.’ The oldest example? ‘That would be the Ahrend 220 desk chair. We introduced it in 1994 and it is still being sold in a revitalized form,’ Diana explains. ‘With this initiative we also lower our CO2-footprint with 95%. That’s a nice extra!’

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