Research Output

Remanufactured Furniture Experiments aiming to minimise material loss and raw material addition – practical workshop at Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, Henan, China, February 2019

  Remanufactured Furniture Experiments aiming to minimise material loss and raw material addition – practical workshop at Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, Henan, China, February 2019
This project aimed to identify strategies for adaptation to inform the design for remanufacture in the next generation of furniture. It builds on the results of a 2018 survey of re-use of domestic furniture (conducted by Paul Kerlaff in partnership with Neat and funded by the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture), which identified durability, modularity and ease of transformation as key factors in furniture re-use. Discarded furniture makes up around half of bulky household waste in the UK, yet very little existing furniture can be re-purposed or re-used beyond its initial life span (Zero Waste Scotland ref).
In an intensive week-long workshop run by Paul Kerlaff and Antonia Cairns, 108 Environmental Design students at ZZULI in Zhengzhou, China, explored a wide range of strategies to transform 30 randomly allocated items of domestic furniture into a second life with a new function. A practical workshop- and hand-craft based method was chosen in order to address the real-life constraints of transforming furniture, to harness the craft improvisation witnessed from previous workshops at ZZULI, and to capitalise on the differences in approach between Chinese and UK designers.
In order to contextualise the crafted artefacts within the discourse of material use, the original items and any additions were weighed before and after, to determine the exact amount of material lost and the amount of new material used. This allowed artefacts to be assessed not only according to aesthetic and functional criteria, but also in relation to their contribution towards a culture of circular material use, in both absolute and percentage terms.
The results are displayed as a photographic portfolio, annotated with infographics showing the material lost or gained for each of 30 items, and overall patterns of material use are discussed alongside relative bias of furniture types, allowing patterns of transformation to be identified.
As a further step in the process, each item of furniture was connected to its neighbour using a nominal modular grid system, and then the item sequence was shuffled, to explore the universality of the grid. Students were then asked to reflect on the process and share insights from the remanufacturing process and suggest strategies for design for remanufacture and modularity. Amongst other insights were reflections on the limitations of one modular connection system, and qualitative data suggesting transformation of attitudes amongst participants towards designing for re-use.

  • Type:

    Artefact

  • Date:

    01 March 2019

  • Publication Status:

    Unpublished

  • Library of Congress:

    TS Manufactures

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    684 Furnishings & home workshops

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded

Citation

Kerlaff, P., & Cairns, A. Remanufactured Furniture Experiments aiming to minimise material loss and raw material addition – practical workshop at Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, Henan, China, February 2019

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