The International Contemporary Furniture Fair is a fun place to visit each year for new trends and ideas in commercial design. Sustainability was a hot theme in the school projects represented at the ICFF: ICFF School

One project in particular highlights a rising trend in product design and marketing. The product-design program of the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts challenged students to develop a piece of furniture out of a single sheet of plywood. While the brief was interesting enough, flat-pack design is not new. The important twist here was a lifecycle analysis (LCA) of each design, comparing the furniture on various metrics such as materials, fasteners, glues, and shipping volume, using software by Sustainable Minds. It was fascinating to see how each design had greater or fewer impacts based on decisions such as having a flat or a curved seat. What if every product in this year’s ICFF had undergone the same LCA?

Here are some other cool things that caught my eye while perusing the aisles: Sustainability gets sexy: • Grain beautifully repurposes textiles and other materials: ICFF Grain • The Oliver ottoman by Vervano, with plant-based foam, low-VOC finishes, and sustainably sourced wood: Vervano : Oliver • 3 Form makes translucent sheet products (like Plexiglas) that are low-impact, use recycled content, and can be recycled or reclaimed after use: 100% Recycled Architectural Resin Panels • OC International makes furniture from renewably sourced, plant-based biopolymer: OC Reiya Natural Collection • Flux chair, a super-flat take on the folding chair: Flux Chairs • Material Connexion: Novacem carbon-negative cement; Ecocradle replacement for polystyrene foam grown from mushrooms; Saratech Permasorb wallpaper, which captures and stores contaminants; and more: Material ConneXion For small space or apartment living: • Neo-Utility Boskke Sky Planter: Boskke Sky Planter • Tempaper – repositionable paper for apartment dwellers – avoid the cost, chemicals, and smell of painting: Tempaper • Hot-pot BBQ by black+blum – an ingenious planter with a BBQ in the base: black+blum • PS08 Secretary desk by Lippert Studios – super-sleek take on the trend incorporating technology into furniture: muller-moebel

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