Ever since I moved out to my first apartment I had a set goal for furniture, chairs, shelving etc I wanted to get. Some had a much higher price tag than what I could afford at that point in time, and some I could get at an affordable price, or at least a better price because I bought vintage versions. That being said, now some of these pieces might have a higher price because the vintage versions are more sought after and have increase in price, but I was early enough on some stuff to do some good deals. This was not necessary made as a sustainable choice at that point in time (10 years ago) but I always had a big enough interest to only buy the stuff I really wanted and be patient enough to save up for those things.
This way of thinking had me living with very little things, but I had the necessary things (well, some might have had to sit on the floor for some time, due to the of the lack of enough chairs), but the enjoyment of getting something you have saved up for is worth the sacrifice of living without.
A bigger change was when my girlfriend and I bought a house together. We now had a bigger space and more rooms in need of furniture. Not thinking specifically about making conscious decisions towards sustainable choices, but rather our personal interest in these quality classic pieces had us make these choices unconsciously. This was 8 years ago before this subject of sustainability became what it is today. We know so much more on the matter now, but I have never liked the buy and throw away mentality.
So the first chair (a vintage Eames dsr chair from the original Herman Miller production) and a coffee table (an old George Nelson platform bench by Herman Miller) I bought when living in my first apartment came along and my girl brought her sofa and bed. That was pretty much all we had at that point, 110m2 space with more or less now furniture
We had saved up to buy a pair of the Hans J. Wegner ch24 chairs (also known as the wishbone chair) and got a pair of the eames dsr chairs for our dining area, the dining table we actually made ourself. This was built on black steel frames from Hay and the table top we made ourself (still going strong 8 years later). So looking at older photos from our home, the living room especially was really empty. Just a sofa, the coffee table and a tv. We also got around to make our own tv bench, this was set on eames ltr metal frames and the top was heavy 4x4 wooden blocks. This was also in our home for 6 years, before my Mom got it last year (after multiple people wanted to buy it).
Vintage or used pieces are a good way to go about to be more sustainable when buying furniture, and you also get so much more «life» and character compared to new versions.
So this was the early stage of our home and the more conscious way of living came along as we needed shelving and more furniture in general. As we saved up for what we wanted, we did not go out to buy a cheaper temporary solution. We lived years without many of those pieces, and by doing it like this, we did not waste any money along they way on things that would later been thrown out for the version we really wanted. The first shelving was by Vitsoe which have been making these 606 universal systems for 60 years. Meaning that you could still pair the 60 year old version with todays order, which says a lot about the quality and how timeless this design is. Dieter Rams did a thing or two right! This system have been a dream of mine for so long and I still get happy every time I look at it. We have since buying our first setup for the living room added a shelving system to our kitchen, our hallway and a small setup for our baby girl´s room.
Why we have chosen this shelving system is both because of the everlasting quality and the timeless design, but also because when moving home at some point this will be easy to set up to however we have the space and needs come that day, because of it modular design. This must be one of the most sustainable furniture solutions we have, and it will always fit our way of living.
The second shelving we bought was the USM Haller system. This is also a modular shelving system with focus on it´s high quality and being customized for your individual use.
This is also something we will bring along to any future homes and will never be thrown away in our lifetime. The love for its design and functionality made us get another shelving for our living room, serving as a media shelving under our tv.
These are the products and pieces I’m after when buying new things for our home, buying less but better.
I have to point out that with both Vitsoe and USM Haller, you get a planer to make sure your setup fits the space you buy it for and also your needs and way of using it. This eliminate the chances of buying something you are not happy with and they also helps you put together a solution based on what you have for when you move homes. Classics like these are a safe choice and will never feel outdated, USM Haller also comes in colors that would suit any personality.
Montana is the latest addition to our home, as we finished up our second living room upstairs. This was a place where we could relax and watch tv on the evenings without disturbing our baby girl and a room we previously had been using as our master bedroom. Montana is also a modular system which comes is all colors you could think of and you can combine them how you want. This system offers endless possibilities and a personal setup we are super happy with. Looking back at the patient waiting game for this room to be finished we now have a system made in Denmark with focus on environmental manufacturing. It was amongst the first Danish furniture manufacturers to be awarded the official EU Ecolabel.
Not only your choice of furniture will make your home a home. I started collecting ceramic bowls, dinner and breakfast plates from a Swedish company when I was 15 (I’m now 33). As this collection is now discontinued we appreciated it even more, and have been collecting different ceramics from whenever we travel somewhere. This miss match way of collecting ceramics makes it more playful and also adds memories to the collection. We support small businesses/studios and this can also be a minor step into being more sustainable. These objects are often made in smaller batches and keeps the footprint to a minimum. We now have our favorite cups for coffee, another for tea and bowls for snacks that make the kid in myself enjoy the candy even more knowing this bowl was bought at our first trip to Berlin together as a couple.
We have these items all around our house, both as decorative objects and those who gets used daily depending on the mood you are in. I truly believe the beauty of these object make me enjoy my coffee even more.
No one will ever be perfect in the way of living a sustainable life, but every step along the way helps. Some may do a great job at recycling and others make better choices when buying furniture and supporting companies that have been making what have now become design classics. We want to make well thought through decisions when adding anything new to our home and hope to never have to throw anything away. I discovered a new global community that has recently launched in Norway called Aurora Sustainability. They create content intended to inspire millennials towards making more sustainable choices in their everyday life. Shifting to more environmentally friendly habits can be challenging, because there's not too much independent information out there about which brands you could choose to lower your carbon footprint, or easy to implement tricks such as changing your washing detergents or buying less food packaged in plastic. Aurora provides just this, in addition to that you can take their quiz and understand more of your sustainability profile and how you could improve your daily habits.
Furniture are just as relatable when looking at where you can be more sustainable with your choices. Look for products that uses ethical sourced and environmentally friendly material that are built to last for many years, these are important steps to a sustainable end product.
My main focus area of sustainable habits is furniture, and my general thought when going about to find your new pieces for your home is not to rush it. I think the time it takes to save up for something also makes you think long enough on the items and if you really want them. Not just jumping on a trend you later want replaced by the «new trend». My interest for interiors have got me to read a lot about the designers and designs which also makes me more attached to these things and cherish them more. I have chairs at home I see more as design object than its function, this because I really love the design and can remember the process of getting it. Now I love looking at it just because of the beautiful shadows it creates as the natural light changes during the day. This specific chair is the Bertoia diamond chair by Harry Bertoia, also a chair I bought vintage to get it from the «right» era and spent so much time cleaning it, because its last owner had used it outdoor.
When buying these items I don’t have an idea that this should be put "here" or "there", but more that the overall aesthetic of my style will come out from buying the stuff I like.
A good mix of vintage, well used items with a scratch here and there goes so well with new and more «polished» surfaces. These things make it our home and I’m glad we did not have money to buy it all at once, it would never be the same. This is almost 10 year spent to make our home what it is today and we are still not done. Fun periods to look back at and now having to make it all child proof and suitable for a new way of living as a family with a baby girl now being the boss.
To learn more about sustainability go to www.aurorasustainability.com and also take the quiz (Aurora Sustainability Quiz) to find out how big your carbon footprint is. You can also check them out on Instagram @aurorasustainability.no
Under you can see the results of my carbon footprint.
It was really fun to see the detailed results from my test, and I can already see where I can improve. Often you just need a reminder like this to get a kick start on improving your daily behaviors.
I thought I would have a better overall score, but see we use too much emissions on transport. I might have written a too high distance here, but the important part is now I’m aware and will be more conscious with our use of the car in the future. I also think that our recycling can be improved and will do better here as well. Our energy use scored really well, which is thanks to our new electrical company and how they made us aware on how to live smarter with our daily use.I look forward to re-take the test in a few weeks to see how good my improvements will score me then.