Sex Sells, So Does it Sell Sustainable Chairs?
Photos via Variér.
One thing you've got to like about Norway's Variér, which is now distributing its upscale, design-them-yourself chairs in the U.S. and around the world: they don't claim to be deep green and question any companies with industrial, mass-produced items that do hoist high the "we're so green" mantle.
And the sinuous, organic shapes of Variér's different chairs really are seductive, so using naked, beautiful women to advertise the chairs doesn't seem so far-fetched as say, using sex to sell cars. Apart from its Nordic modesty, however, what does Variér do that can be considered environmentally sound and leading to sustainability?Life's a beechThe company embraces the hardwood beech, which it claims comes from varified sustainable European sources. Most of the chairs are clothed in wool, which is indeed a sustainable fabric. But leather and a synthetic micro-fiber material (made from "100% recycled materials") are also offered, as one of Variér's marketing tools is to allow customers to custom build a chair.
Flat pack providerStealing the flat pack idea from IKEA is probably one of Variér's best implementations, as the company said this allows it to ship 1,500 chairs in a container - an important consideration for the U.S. buyer. And Variér says it's chairs are built for longevity, which is, it is true, one of the overlooked factors in sustainability of consumer products. The company is powered with green energy (pretty easy in Norway where over 90% of electricity produced is from hydro power) and uses sawdust and wood waste for ancillary heating at its factory.
Variable - design has stood time's testHowever, does all this add up to a sustainable chair? Well, looking at Variér's Variable, which was first designed 30 years ago, I would say yes. This chair, which uses knee resting pads to keep the user upright, is considered more ergonomic than chair designs that places knees at a 90 degree angle or chair backs that allow slumping, and I've been wanting one of these for years.
So perhaps the only thing not sustainable for those of us average earners is the price - retail ranges from about $395 to $500 per chair. To put that in perspective, Herman Miller's famous Mirra chair is closer to $600. Via: VariérRead moreGreenwash Watch: HDPE ChairsHerman Miller's Approach to Sustainable DesignBig Ideas for a Small Planet - the Furnish Episodeand on Planet GreenHow to Go Green:Furniture