Why buy a disposable seat that only lasts for a short time when you can rent a durable and high-quality seat? Motief Atelier developed Lease a couch: a product and service formula that introduces the principles of circular economy in the interior and furniture sector.
We act from a system-changing perspective in which the reusability of products and raw materials is central. We strive for value creation at every stage of the process: production, recycling, employment, training, repair, maintenance and demolition. The production of a piece of furniture should no longer be a linear process, but a cyclical model that starts with recycling and does not consider scrapping as the end of the life cycle.
In concrete terms, the furniture industry today is dominated by glues and synthetic mousses that increase production speed but make subsequent recycling more difficult. For our project, we collect second-hand furniture and try to replace these materials as much as possible with natural, local or recycled raw materials and reversible fastening techniques. In our prototype, the Circular Chair, we combine old traditional upholstery techniques with the latest material innovations. Right from the construction stage, we take into account the subsequent dismantling and reuse of separable components. Thanks to the small-scale production system and the more integral view of the manufacturing process, we can also integrate social employment and training programmes into our formula.
Finally, our product-service formula encourages the transition from an economy based on consumption and ownership to one based on use and access to goods. By keeping the product in our ownership, we can also reduce the price and thus make sustainable (and more expensive) furniture accessible to a wider audience.
Motief Atelier VOF
PartnersSofacover bvba, De Schepper - Hof De Neve lv
A material passport of all materials used in our Circular Chair was made, suppliers were tracked down and production chains were mapped.
In our Circular Chair prototype, we developed an alternative furniture construction that combines reversible upholstery techniques with new material applications. We also applied this construction method to other recycled furniture.
The diverse production for Lease a couch enabled Motief Atelier to grow into a small-scale inclusive studio environment, where care learning, social reintegration and educational pathways find a natural place.
Cédric', 'Martine', 'Jef', 'Ella' and 'Rudolf' - all our lease furniture is named after its previous owner - found a new home. Eight other pieces are still waiting for a new dress.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
In a circular logic, the link between the original assembly and dismantling becomes more important. A layered (rather than integrated) assembly with smart fastening techniques are the key to making materials easier to clean or replace later.
The invisible parts of a piece of furniture are another important challenge for circular innovation in the furniture industry. Further research is needed into alternatives to synthetic mousses and efficient, reversible fastening techniques.
By focusing on recycling, it is difficult to standardise the production process. Every piece is different. This requires different training models and guidance programmes for employees.
It remains a challenge to integrate intensive traditional manufacturing processes and social employment into an inclusive and at the same time profitable commercial working environment.
23furniture in production
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
We want to continue on this path in the coming years with Motief Atelier.
First of all, we want to further promote Lease a Couch through targeted communication to our target audience. After that, we want to slowly expand our offer, initially aiming for private customers. Co-design projects with, for instance, bio-engineers, young textile or furniture designers, can help to shake off the 'old-fashioned' image of the recycled piece of furniture. Secondly, we are thinking of upscaling (B2B), possibly by looking for partners for strategic cooperation.
Secondly, we want to deepen the material research and communicate transparently about it via targeted social media campaigns, blog stories on the website, lectures, contributions in magazines and newspapers, network events ...
Thirdly, we want to optimise the working method of the Circular Chair by continuing our research into materials, monitoring technological innovations, testing new applications and documenting our own development. If the opportunity arises, we would like to continue to cooperate with fellow entrepreneurs, research centres and educational institutions for this purpose.
Fourthly, in the medium term, I would like to create a small-scale studio environment where care, education, craftsmanship and experimental research can coexist unconstrained. I see this environment as an economic model where manual labour can once again be respectable and profitable, but also as an innovative and inclusive workplace where 'the work of the future' can take shape.