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Upcycling and Biopolymers: How We’re Working to Make Earth-Friendly Furniture

Posted by Jillian Northrup on Apr 20th 2020

Recent months have caused substantial upheaval around the world. As we look to make meaningful changes in our regular routines going forward, we think it’s important to look at the choices we make both now and in the future.

In fact, it is our concern for that global future that is one of the driving forces behind how we at Model No. make furniture today. You see, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword for us, it’s an essential part of the process. And with Earth Day right around the corner, we thought now would be a good time to take a moment to reflect on those processes and shed some light on how each piece of furniture we create does its part to make the world a better place.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Most furniture you buy has a significant carbon footprint—it includes everything from the materials used, to the manufacturing process, to the environmental costs of climate-controlled storage, to shipment. At Model No. we do things a bit differently:

  • Sustainable materials
  • On-demand manufacture
  • Zero inventory storage
  • Sustainable packaging materials

Because of our unique create-on-demand business model, we are able to significantly lower the carbon footprint of the furniture we sell compared to traditional furniture.

Eco-Friendly Materials

When you think of 3D printed items, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people shopping for furniture, you may not have any idea what kind of material is used in the printing process. Traditionally, 3D printed items are made with petroleum-based plastics—great for customizations, but not-so-great for the environment.

Our furniture? We make it from plants: specifically, all Model No. furniture is made from biopolymers and plant-based resins that provide the flexibility of customization without the need for harmful petrochemicals. These materials are sourced from the non-edible remains of agricultural crops which further reduces waste and lets us upcycle “scrap” materials into beautiful one-of-a-kind creations that are perfect for any living space.

images from NatureWorks, a manufacturer of biopolymers)

And because these biopolymers are made from plants that are continually re-planted, the oxygen the plants produce helps offset any CO2 emissions in the production process.

For our larger pieces of furniture, such as our tables and chaise, the wood we use is harvested sustainably. When possible, we even use local species in all the wood details of our products. That means no deforestation or clear-cutting is involved in the pieces that we create for you.

As for the other hardware, it’s made right here in America out of recyclable materials like steel and aluminum. Going local lets us avoid the negative environmental impact of importing materials from overseas while ensuring that every piece is built to last.

Minimalist Luxury

Is it possible to have minimal environmental impact while enjoying the luxury of beautiful design? We think so.

And it goes beyond our materials: the technology we use for our Customizer is designed to create shapes and forms that are durable as well as beautiful. That means you can enjoy every piece you design for many years to come, and can create furniture pieces in sizes that fit your home perfectly.

For people who live in tiny homes or who are otherwise looking to downsize without sacrificing luxury, designing furniture in this way just makes sense. You get exactly the furniture you want, made just for you, in sizes that fit just right.

And for those in more traditional housing, being able to customize furniture from room to room maximizes available space and provides the means to match the style of furniture to existing decor.

Feel Good About the Choices You Make

Right now, new furniture may be the very last thing on your mind. We get it.

But for those of you that are considering making a new furniture purchase in the near future—whether to furnish a room in your home or to outfit your home office—we hope that you’ll decide to make a purchase that has a positive impact on not just your surroundings, but on the world we live in as well.

At Model No. it’s about making choices that help conserve our planet’s resources at every step of the process, without sacrificing quality or design. And that’s something everyone can feel good about.

Our Approach
Image of an artfully designed chaise lounge

ARTFUL DESIGN

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Sophisticated modern aesthetic developed by industry leaders with backgrounds in architecture, industrial and parametric design who use the latest technology including 3D printing.
Image showing variations within a single product

ON-DEMAND CUSTOMIZATION

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Our first-to-market digital showroom allows you to fully customize items to fit your needs- from shape and color to size and budget. Your custom piece is created on-demand and ships from our studio to your door in just a few weeks.
Image showing some of the sustainable materials we use to produce our products

SUSTAINABLY MADE

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All furnishings are made in the US with 100% renewable materials from sustainably sourced hardwoods to 3D printed plant resins upcycled from unused food crops. On-demand production means we don’t hold any wasteful inventory.