Steel is a great material, it is strong, inexpensive and recyclable. In fact it is the most recycled material in the world, and whilst it may not be a new material it can be re-imagined into new forms, suitable for modern life. This is why we are building a diverse portfolio of steel based products, which are both made from recycled material and are designed to be easily recycled.
Origin’s steel products are made from a combination 56% recycled and 44% virgin material. This is thought to be the most sustainable ratio, as demand for steel outstrips the amount that is recycled. Buying steel on the basis of high recycled content does not stimulate further recycling but instead increases the cost.
The way to make steel-based products more sustainable is to keep them simple, the less materials used and the easier they are to disassemble the more likely they are to be recycled. Steel has been recycled for over 150 years and so long as the material can be easily separated the process is efficient, economical and CO2 efficient, cutting emissions by 58%.
Steel has many great characteristics, although it’s best I feel is that it can be repeatedly recycled without any impact on the quality of the material. I like the idea that the steel in our chairs has metamorphosised over the years serving a variety of different functions. A chair now but may have been a car panel, structural beam or hand rail, this to me is circular design.
Product longevity is also extremely important to sustainability, designing products to last not only physically but from an aesthetical stand point, rather than following any fashion trends. I believe it’s important to focus on material, structural and functional qualities when designing a product and to allow an aesthetic to emerge organically.
Giles Pearson – Designer