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Green Design: Green Furniture

green furniture

What is "Green Furniture"

The process of furniture manufacturing, if not carefully undertaken, can harm the environment. When selecting "green furniture", you should look for products that utilize lumber from renewable wood resources or select furniture made from recycled materials, following principles of Green Design.

Many furniture companies have strict policies regarding the use of wood from threatened or endangered species of trees, many of which are found in rain forests. In some cases federal and state laws restrict the use of certain woods for furniture construction. Some species, such as maple and oak, are easier to replenish than other rare woods, such as mahogany, teak, and rosewood. Wood species that are endangered but are grown specifically for furniture industries and replenished are often used only as fine thin veneers. These woods may be farmed as plantation-grown lumber or in a sustainable forest. More plentiful wood by-products, such as particleboard, are used for the veneer backing.

According to Design Solutions magazine, the Tropical Forest Foundation is one organization that works to educate consumers and producers about the benefits of conservation and forest management. One of their primary goals is to educate individuals and companies on the benefits of low-impact logging.

Proper selection of green furniture also includes ensuring the items have safe, environmentally friendly finishes. The process of applying paint to furniture can cause the release of toxic volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, into the air. These solvents are carried into the exhaust stacks and released directly into the atmosphere. VOCs contribute to smog and harm the ozone layer, allowing damaging ultraviolet rays to reach the earth.

The Clean Air Act passed by Congress in 1990 requires companies to reduce these harmful emissions. Some companies have developed alternative painting processes to reduce emissions. At an Interior Design Educators Council conference, Elizabeth Rylan and Gordon Kerby outlined several ways this can be accomplished. For example, paint can be applied to wood as it rides on a conveyor belt, reducing the VOCs emitted into the air; metal furniture can be given an electrical charge and coated with paint of the opposite charge, bonding the two together electrically. Additionally, substituting water-based stains and natural coatings for paint, and using carbon filters can also lessen the release of VOCs.

green furniture

Green Furniture Trends

As demonstrated by latest trends, our days a lot of people expressing desire to bring outdoor furniture indoors. We are hoping this trend will continue as a healthy direction for the furniture. If you decorating your home in country style or cottage style these type of furniture is perfect for you.

Whicker, rattan, teak, wrought-iron, and hand-hammered metal furniture that previously was considered for outdoor use only making its way into interior spaces, bringing freshness and cheerfulness of outdoors inside our homes. Hopefully, as people become more ecologically conscious, this interrelationship between outside and inside will be fully embraced. Woven-reed, cane and rattan furniture finds its way into the finest houses. High style needn't be fancy.

Avoid simply filling space; instead, make sure every piece of furniture fulfills a function. If your home is free of unnecessary items it will appear more spacious, lighter, and generally calmer—and it will be easier to clean. You can find a wide range of styles of furniture on the market, so avoiding furniture that causes environmental pollution during its production or that damages indoor air quality does not mean a limited choice or having to settle for "rustic" styles. You should consider adding several antique pieces to your furniture collection.

Antiques connect you to the past, reminding you of men and women who lived by the natural rhythms of the day, waking at sunrise and going to bed at sunset, at a time when people took pride in their workmanship. Patience was a necessity in order to accomplish the degree of refinement expected in handmade objects.

antique furniture

Selecting Green Furniture

Antiques also tie you indelibly to your own past. As a child, you may have eaten informal meals sitting in old Windsor chairs at an antique farm table in the kitchen. The dining room of your parents' house might have been formal, with Chippendale chairs around a double-pedestal table, or it might have had an old French fruitwood farm table surrounded by ladder-back chairs. Perhaps one of the reasons people are drawn to these creations is that they evoke a period in history when life seemed more serene and optimistic, and less complex and cacophonous.

Today's solid wood furniture is undergoing a renaissance, and designers are developing models based on traditional as well as newer, safe production techniques. Traditionally, the furniture industry relied on the sustained productivity of woodlands achieved by coppicing, which encourages regeneration. Coppicing involves cutting a young tree with a trunk of about 4 inches in diameter, just above ground level, leaving the roots intact. Some 15 years later, new trees have grown from those roots, thus enabling one plant to continue producing usable timber for hundreds of years.

Contemporary designers still use coppiced wood to produce furniture that is spare and light. Long, flexible stalks of willow and ash thinning can also be woven or bent to create interesting forms for chairs, screens, and stools. Other designers exploit the powerful look of large pieces of unadorned wood to make chunky tables and stools—sometimes boldly plain and other times with delicate surface carvings and softened shapes. Sculptors are also producing carved furniture from huge sections of a log, using the African carving tradition in which a whole item, legs included, is carved from one trunk. This method avoids glues and joints, but it does produce waste. All these designs embody the "less is more" approach and derive their beauty from a simplicity of line and the richness and texture of the wood grain.

buying green furniture

Buying Green Furniture

Remember that the finish on any furniture is just as important as the other materials, so check that finishes and glues used in production are nontoxic.

Furniture is also being made from other natural materials such as rushes, rattan, and bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing renewable resources and it's also extremely strong and durable. It can be combined with plywood in a composite material for making larger pieces, such as tabletops and work surfaces.

Another traditional safe material now being used for interesting designs is made from wood-based paper twine, which is woven into a flexible fabric—sometimes incorporating wire for extra strength—and stretched over a bentwood or cane frame. Such furniture has long been used in the tropics but is becoming universally popular.

 
GREEN DESIGN