Humanscale Design Studio undertook a sustainable design challenge -- reimagine the design of a simple stool through three different sustainable approaches: biomimicry, circular economy, and biofabrication. Sergio Silva Humanscale Design Studio’s Industrial Design Consultant spearheaded the circular economy approach. The resulting stool, deemed the “Ciclo stool,” was made entirely from materials that would normally be classified as “waste.” For example, Silva utilized UBQ Material — upcycled, bio-based thermoplastic composites — for the molded stool bottom, and felted discarded textiles for the seat cushion.

Humanscale Design Studio Sketch

Here’s what Sergio had to share about this design approach and his learnings:

What was the greatest lesson learned from completing the challenge? I learned that the possibilities for making a real impact on our industry and our materials economy are pretty much endless when you set out from the start with the proper set of values.

How did you decide on the direction you eventually used? I wanted to focus on a production method that was readily accessible to highlight the fact that UBQ is a material that anyone can start using today. Given the urgency of the problem, I thought focusing on a simple form that can easily be compression molded might inspire others to take up the challenge and find other applications for UBQ.

Has the challenge changed your overall design approach? It has been a valuable reminder of the importance of starting any project with a “Design for Environment” lens, as well as a reminder of how many great resources are readily available to tap into for inspiration when thinking about sustainability.

Interested in more? Check out the two other stool approaches — biofabrication and biomimicry — that were a part of this sustainability challenge.