Viewport Studio gives discarded timber a new life in Essential Furniture Collection
By repurposing obsolete construction materials, Viewport Studio has created new pieces of furniture and reinvented an entire mode of production.
More often than not the most inspiring exemplars of sustainability are those that reinvent old ideas, inspiring new ways of doing things by taking a designed approach to already existing processes. The Essential Furniture Collection is exactly that.
Why Essential Furniture? To introduce an environmentally friendly process and methodology, rather than a simple finite collection of furniture
The collection, which features a series of tables made from discarded timber, was designed for furniture brand Industry +, a manufacturing company that creates design products that are utilitarian in approach.
The minds behind Essential Furniture – Viewport Studio
Viewport Studio is a multidisciplinary practice based out of London and Singapore that comprises a team of architects and designers across a mix of disciplines. The studio was founded and developed by Voon Wong and Benson Saw who met in 2001 during London’s Designers Block exhibition.
It was there that they learnt of each other’s background, Voon graduating from Architecture in Singapore before moving to London to study at the School of Architecture of the Architectural Association and working with Zaha Hadid Architects, and Benson who graduated in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University in 1999.
Noticing their immediate chemistry as collaborative designers, the duo founded VWBS in 2006, which would later become Viewport Studio and work with clients including Virgin Galactic, Delta Air Lines and Walter Knoll.
Today, the pair deal in architectural, interior and industrial design producing innovative and boldly aesthetic pieces that unite the principle of movement with design and engineering.
Materials and techniques – Discarded Timber
The ‘Essential Furniture Collection’ reduces the energy and resources typically used to produce domestic furniture by repurposing offcuts of discarded timber. The studio then selected a series of timber blocks and beams to form the base of each piece, pairing them with different offcuts depending on their structural properties and shape.
Once each form was decided, the timber was air-dried to ensure its stability during production, before being sandblasted to strip away bark and any residual dirt. Finally, the separate parts were pieced together by CNC-milling mortise and tenon joints into the timber creating slot-like joineries.
Want to know other sustainable furniture designs? Check out Linking UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to furniture design – Klaus Jorlet of We Do Wood
Style & Aesthetics – Dark and Organic
The look of the collection was very much determined by the process, which Viewport Studio kept as organic as possible. The final result is extremely raw and representative of the concept behind Essential, down to the natural wood dye applied to each piece creating a unified aesthetic.
Essential questions the existing production cycle of commercial furniture by redefining every step in the process. As well as championing responsible material sourcing, the collection stresses the importance of manufacturing with each of the timber beams sources within a 10-mile radius of the furniture’s place of production. The result is not simply a finite collection but a process and methodology that is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Design memento – A new life for wasted wood
Across the world, thousands of tonnes of timber are discarded because they don’t conform to standard shapes, sizes and finishes required by the construction industry.
Because these pieces are difficult to assemble into stable structures the wood they are often left to be thrown away or processed for other uses. By transforming these offcuts into a desirable collection of furniture, Viewport Studio has demonstrated a viable way of making use of this waste.
The writer’s comment – Beautifully rugged and wonderfully unique
The final collection is striking in both concept and aesthetic, resulting in pieces that combine functional design with the rugged beauty of their material. Because of the nature of production used to create Essential, the tables come in varying shapes and sizes, something appreciated in design today not only for its uniqueness but the illustrative beauty of sustainability.
Curious about other recycled materials and innovative furniture design? See From beer brewing to seating stools with Instead Mobilier