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Material innovation

Posted by Bath Bespoke on 3 July 2020

Operating responsibly and reducing the environmental impact of our furniture and joinery has been at the heart of the business since the beginning.

An inherent responsibility to source our materials sustainably and a desire to work with innovation as it emerges allows us to operate using some of the most sustainable practices possible in the industry. Consequently, we like to keep a close eye on industry developments that introduce the benefits of sustainable materials to the mainstream…


Image: Sobreiro Collection via Dezeen

Cork is a material on the rise, favoured by many designers and architects for its compostable and recyclable properties. It is harvested from a specific layer of bark, usually on the cork oak tree. This layer, called the phellem layer, is composed of a hydrophobic material that has unique characteristics: it is impermeable, buoyant, elastic and fire-retardant.

This naturally environmentally sustainable material has been used in homes since the early twentieth century by architects from Frank Lloyd Wright to Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto to William Massie. Thanks to its versatile properties, it is now regaining traction in twenty-first design.

In 2018, Brazilian design duo Humberto and Fernando Campana created the Sobreiro Collection consisting of an armchair and three cabinets made almost entirely from cork to showcase its versatility. While 2019 saw Jasper Morrison make a series of limited edition furniture items from cork block leftover from wine-bottle cork-stopper production to champion the material’s remarkable functionality as well as its unique atmospheric qualities.


Image: Camira via Elle Decoration

This incredibly innovative fibre is one of the most certified, earth-friendly in the world. A high-quality recycled polyester yarn, Seaqual is made from recycled materials including post-consumer plastic bottles and plastic captured from the sea, contributing to preserving natural resources and reducing the waste in the planet’s water.

Yorkshire-based textile brand Camira began producing recycled fabrics 20 years ago, and has now teamed up with Seaqual, a global initiative that connects fishermen, scientists, NGOs and authorities to remove and upcycle marine litter. Camira’s new collection of fabrics are woven using ‘Seaqual’ yarn and each metre is made from the equivalent of 26 plastic bottles, with 16 shades to choose from.

Palm oil byproducts

Image: Nataša Perković via Dezeen

While it remains unlikely that global consumption of palm oil will drop radically, the challenge is to make its production process and associated byproducts more sustainable and less wasteful.

In a bid to turn the byproducts of the palm oil industry from an “environmental nuisance” into a sustainable material, the large amounts of fibre leftover from its production are being reimagined with both high and low tech manufacturing methods by Bosnian designer Nataša Perković.

The Reclaimed Oil Palm collection is comprised of a stackable chair, three plates and a pendant lamp.  The chair which is constructed of a composite of oil palm tree fibre micro powder blended with polylactic acid is £D printed while traditional paper-making and compression moulding techniques were used to create the plates. The entire range can be easily recycled at the end of its lifecycle thanks to being made from one substance and its simple, pared-back design lends a timeless style to the range.


Image: Zhekai Zhang via Dezeen

In a bid to repurpose the tonnes of spent coffee grounds currently shipped to landfill, where they generate methane – one of the most potent greenhouse gas – a variety of industries have been championing spent coffee grounds as a material to produce valuable, durable products for some time.

In 2019, scooping up the leftover grounds and experimenting with furniture and lighting production saw designer Zhekai Zhang use the caffeinated material to create marble effects on porcelain lights. The Coffire lighting collection uses recycled coffee grounds as a sustainable pigment to form random porcelain surface patterns and textures.



Made from discarded fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring and industrial plastic sourced from landfills and oceans around the world, ECONYL® is an innovative form of reconstituted nylon. Embracing a circular design approach, the goal is once all products containing ECONYL® are no longer useful they can be entered back into the first stages of the regeneration process which recycles the nylon back to its original purity, ready once again for re-use.

New Zealand furniture manufacturer noho tapped into ECONYL® nylon for its sustainable and regenerative qualities to reimagine conventional furniture design, making their ergonomic noho move™ chair predominantly from ECONYL® as part of their mission to improve the wellbeing of both people and our planet. Integrating the dynamic ergonomic comfort of a premium office chair and sustainable design, they created a chair that flexes and flows with the body and can last a lifetime.