Humanscale X Kvadrat: Why Wool is a Win

Capitalising on shared values such as design innovation, longevity and sustainability, this Dubai Design Week, formidable brands Humanscale and Kvadrat came together to host an eye-opening discourse on why wool ought to be considered in contemporary interior projects. If you were there, you know Humanscale’s iconic Freedom chair upholstered in Kvadrat’s supple Elle was all the convincing that was needed….

On the 8th of December, Humanscale’s showroom at Dubai Design District gathered design & sustainability enthusiasts. Gitte Nyus Holm, Regional Director of Kvadrat Middle East, addressed the audience to spotlight the redeemable qualities of wool as upholstery. At the end of the presentation, Frazer Butcher, Regional Director, MENA, answered questions on how sustainable design doesn’t have to be an added cost and also the importance of overall transparency. He then urged the visitors to closely examine the Humanscale portfolio, including its most revered Freedom Chair. Given the special occasion, the brands collaborated to devise the exhibit and provide a real-time experience.

As onlookers sat in the chairs and got a feel of the fabrics, Gitte’s spoken points were further etched into their minds. Here are the key takeaways…

The Future is Third-Party Verified EPD

Transparency as a Foundation

“Green certificates are rampant in the UAE. However, the world’s Western counterparts are increasingly leaning towards third-party verified EPDs, which require a company to be endlessly transparent, which at Kvadrat, we inherently are”, Gitte said with pride. 

EPDs require delving into all stages of an operation: the Material phase, Manufacturing phase, Usage phase and even Transport and Disposal. Simply put, they are life-cycle assessments ensuring a product is sustainable through all stages. Between wool possessing properties such as fire-retardancy, biodegradability and durability, and Kvadrat’s extensive R&D, wool textiles from the brand have already embarked upon a futuristic path. 

Humanscale has made huge strides, with 70% of their product portfolio independently verified as ‘Climate Positive’ This year they launched Path, the world’s most sustainable task chair that utilises nearly 10 kilograms of recycled materials, including fishing nets.

Choosing to exemplify material transparency is commendable, and Humanscale does it by sharing all the ingredients in their products publicly. And let’s not forget, they were the first amongst the competition to focus on the removal of Red List Chemicals from their designs. 

So far, the furniture manufacturers have already knocked-out toxins such as Chrome 6, PFAS, BPA and even halogenated flame retardants (HFRs). Yet, the team continues to issue goals and lead the path to prioritising consumer health and well-being. “100% of new Humanscale products are launched with an ingredients label, 83% of Declare Labels have been verified by a third-party auditor, and 81% of Humanscale products are sold with materials ingredients labels”, Frazer proclaimed, bolstering the brand’s stance.

Not Ousting Imported Products without Research

Transporting is Good if the Benefits yield Better Results

Gitte claimed, “Transportation forms less than 3% of the impact when you opt for Kvadrat products like Hallingdal 65.” Behind her bold statement were solid calculations illustrating the dedicated resources that  Kvadrat has invested in re-engineering its textile offerings. Carbon dioxide emissions from Hallingdal 65 account for 12.7 CO2/kg, which amounts to 0.5 litre of gasoline. With the product boasting a 20-year lifespan, emissions come down to 0.3365 CO2/kg per year.

All in all, Gitte urged the audience to make informed decisions when specifying for a project.

The Undeniable, Timeless Aesthetic

Looking Beyond Trends

“Will a flashy orange chair with eccentric prints survive the test of time?” Gitte questions. There is a list of qualities of wool that one could preach about. It is innately sustainable but the most essential aspect of design is visual. Without an alluring, timeless aesthetic, a product will risk becoming redundant, no matter what its durability.

Kvadrat’s collaboration with esteemed designers such as Raf Simons, Patricia Urquiola, Doshi Levien and Muller van Severan, ensures the company’s products maintain their evergreen stature. Ergonomics never looked so good! Humanscale’s Freedom chair is a shining example. The soft lines fused with strong metal elements have rendered the product a hot favourite even after two decades of launch.


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