Love how a simple project (a table) can be approached with such thoughtfulness. It’s a beautiful object that really considers the way it’s made. Every component and object is deliberate. If only we approached every project with as much thoughtfulness, we’d live in a better world. – Susana
Beautifully designed product with an amazing eco-story as well. Win-win. – Jesse
The Heartland Table is a multipurpose heirloom quality piece of furniture. It was designed with a modern aesthetic and with sustainable manufacturing processes at the heart of its essence. It’s aptly named as its design, materials, and manufacturing all occurs in the Midwest, USA. We used our proprietary sustainable design strategies, to help our client find the most sustainable production options for their product offering. The process used revealed that reclaimed urban lumber had a 99 percent smaller carbon footprint at manufacture when compared to the same amount of standard-practice sourced lumber.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The challenge presented to us was to develop a piece of furniture for a modern furniture company that utilized sustainable manufacturing practices, which could be measured and validated. No green-washing here! The furniture company was already manufacturing for corporate clients like Whole Foods and Starbucks, but wanted to expand there offerings to include pieces that could bridge the gap between corporate and private consumers.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The client whom we designed for believes in utilizing green manufacturing processes. We educated them about Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA), and the value of utilizing measurable design processes to determine best practices for sustainable product development. Our ability to communicate the value of LCAs to sustainable design and production process and our experience conducting them for clients of all sizes ultimately gained their buy-in and resulted in measurably successful design.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The Heartland Table is manufactured by using urban reclaimed lumber as opposed to standard lumber sourcing. Urban reclaimed lumber is wood from trees in urban settings that are diseased, a nuisance, or has fallen. This wood is typically left to the incinerator or landfill, but is instead reclaimed and finished.
We used our proprietary sustainable design strategies, as well as a software called Sustainable Minds, to help Icon Modern find the most sustainable production options for their product offerings. The process used revealed that 25 pounds of the reclaimed urban lumber had a 99% smaller carbon footprint at manufacture (assuming a 35 year product life), compared to the same amount of standard wood. Additionally, the Heartland Table with wooden legs has a 97% smaller carbon footprint at manufacture when compared to the standard wood sourcing process.
In order to reduce Icon Modern’s carbon footprint, we chose an “X” design for the foundation of the table because it reduces the material used compared to the standard box frame for a table. This “X” frame design not only benefits the environment and consumer, but the manufacturer as well. The “X” frame requires only 140 inches of metal or wood compared to 186 inches for a standard table frame. This extra 46 inches of material cuts directly into the bottom line and reduces the carbon footprint. With the new design, the manufacturer cuts its costs on each product made.
Additionally, the “X” frame creates a lighter visual underneath the table. Coupled with the clean lines and pop of color it creates a modern but approachable appearance that is very versatile and fits well into many spaces. We were able to design the table with mass production in mind, minimizing costs and using materials and processes that make manufacturing simple. At the same time each table has a unique aesthetic from its urban wood top, creating an individual feel.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
There's no such thing as a green product. All products have an impact and a cost to the environment that we all share. If we're going to be in the business of creating artifacts the best that we can do is to strive to honestly reduce the negative impacts that we make. The impacts made are primarily locked in on the front end of the production cycle, as engineers and designers make decisions that will effect the product, the user, and the environment for a much longer time, in most cases, than any one of us will exist. The Heartland Table absolutely utilizes best sustainable product design practices for a client who is dedicated to using only sustainable manufacturing processes. All of the design concepts were measured with an LCA to ensure that the manufacturing processes in fact had a lower negative impact on our shared environment than industry standard sourcing and production processes.6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
No it did not