Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: Eco-Conscious Home - Zero Waste Design

The Zero Waste philosophy originated in the Food world, where new “surplus” yet still perfectly good food consumption sales models and practices are being generated. The concept is slowly but steadily being embraced by all manufacturing sectors.  

In the design world, this means taking on board the concept of circularity, minimising manufacturing waste, and planning not just the durability of objects but also their disassemblability and their capacity to be recycled or disposed of.

Zero Waste means experimenting with the use of innovative materials and researching biomaterials that help lower the environmental impact of furniture and furnishings, enabling them to become biodegradable, like organic waste. 


R16 is a light, or rather, a light made from its own packaging. Design studio Waarmakers has come up with a response to the extremely critical sector-wide problem vexing manufacturers: packaging that, in most cases, once it has served its original purpose, becomes waste that needs to be disposed of, implying high financial and environmental costs.

As cardboard tubes are not just extremely hardwearing but are also neutral in tone and looks, making them suitable for all kinds of interiors, designers Simon and Maarten decided to pay homage to such a versatile material by making it an inherent part of the product itself. 


The cardboard packaging contains the LED light and the various components needed for mounting and suspending it. A perforated section of the tube/packaging is then removed, leaving room for the light to shine through; then a simple pencil is all that’s needed to hold the LED rod in place. A personal touch ensures that no R16s are alike. 

The designers at South Korea’s Hattern studio set out specifically to make a product without generating any waste at all. The upshot was the Zero Per Stool seat and informed its characteristic appearance.

The stool consists of two parts – legs and seat – one made from the offcuts of the other. The legs are made from rectangular sheets of white oak, shaped to slot together, obviating the need for any other material. The offcuts are broken into bits and put into a mould that is then filled with resin, ensuring that no two finished articles look exactly alike.


The arrangement of the bits of wood is different every time and the resin can take on different colourways – its translucid consistency lending an artistic touch to their variability.

Many independent producers and designers are now electing to make biodegradable domestic furnishings. One such is Alki, a Basque design collective which – in keeping with the eco-friendly approach that marks out all their projects – has come up with Kuskoa Bi, the first fully biodegradable bioplastic chair.


The collective, based in a valley overlooked by the Pyrenees, specialises in integrated production methods for creating eco-conscious, comfortable and elegant design pieces, using natural and environmentally friendly materials and resources. Specifically, this chair boasts a particularly enveloping shell, designed to provide optimum back and arm support. This is a shape that can only be achieved by using plastic materials.

This is where the idea of experimenting with bioplastic comes in. It is already used in several different fields, such as car manufacturing. Bioplastic is a polymer with similar characteristics and properties to plastic; it can also be injected, extruded and thermoformed but, unlike plastic, is made 100% from plant-based products (beet, corn starch, sugar cane etc.). 

Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma has come up with an alternative use for linen fibre for manufacturing furnishings, which has earned him not one but two Dutch Design Awards. His Flax Chair is made entirely of this textile fibre combined with PLA, polylactic acid. Two naturally derived materials, serving to ensure that the finished product is totally biodegradable.


The designer spotted the tremendous potential of linen fibre, both because of its valuable qualities and because the plant flourishes at those particular latitudes and requires little investment in the way of resources. Following the success of this first experiment, Meindertsma is now considering creating an entire range, which will include both different chair colours and other furnishing pieces such as tables