Heartland Table (Sustainable Furniture) by Ken Harris
2012 - 2013, Silver A' Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Award Winner
Making nice things that leave a minimal impact on the environment.
The Heartland Table is a multipurpose heirloom quality piece of furniture. It was designed with a modern aesthetic and with sustainable manufacturing processes at the heart of its essence. It’s aptly named as its design, materials, and manufacturing all occurs in the Midwest, USA.
Design Challenges
The challenge presented was to develop a piece of furniture utilizing sustainable manufacturing practices that could be measured and validated. No green-washing here! The client furniture company was already manufacturing for corporate clients like Whole Foods and Starbucks, but wanted to expand their offerings to include pieces that could bridge the gap between corporate and private consumers.
Production Technology
The Heartland Table is manufactured using urban reclaimed lumber as opposed to standard lumber sourcing. Urban reclaimed lumber is wood from trees in urban settings that are diseased, a nuisance, or that have fallen. This wood typically left to the incinerator or landfill, is instead reclaimed and finished. We used our proprietary sustainable design strategies, as well as Sustainable Minds software, to help our Client find the most sustainable production options for their product offerings. The process used revealed that 25 pounds of the reclaimed urban lumber had a 99 percent smaller carbon footprint at manufacture compared to the same amount of standard-practice sourced lumber. This assumes the average approximate 35 year product life for heirloom modern furniture. Additionally, the Heartland Table with wooden legs has a 97 percent smaller carbon footprint at manufacture when compared to the standard wood sourcing process. In order to reduce our Client’s carbon footprint, we chose an “X” design for the foundation of the table because it reduces the material used compared to the standard box frame for a table. This “X” frame design not only benefits the environment and consumer, but the manufacturer as well. The “X” frame requires only 140 inches wood compared to 186 inches for a standard table frame. This extra 46 inches of material cuts directly into the bottom line. With the new design, the manufacturer cuts its costs on each product made. The “X” frame creates a lighter visual underneath the table. Coupled with the clean lines and pop of color it creates a modern but approachable appearance that is very versatile and fits into many spaces. We were able to design the table with mass production in mind, minimizing costs and using materials and processes that make manufacturing simple. At the same time each table has a unique aesthetic due to its urban wood top, giving an individual feel to each table.
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