For Ewelina Pankowska, design is a puzzle that fuses creative expression with function. And as much as she loves art and its expression, the driving force behind her work has always been tackling physical and environmental problems.
Recognizing that the furniture industry is responsible for approximately 15 percent of Earth’s deforestation, Pankowska’s company Reforest Design is addressing these environmental concerns through its furniture design, material and manufacturing. The result of Reforest Design’s vision is a furniture line with a signature modular system that can be applied to all upholstery styles.
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Reforest From Idea to Reality
The idea for Reforest design was inspired by the plethora of damaged and discarded furniture that Pankowska encountered during her days studying Environmental Design Architecture at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada.
Photos courtesy of Reforest Design
“I’d walk city streets and couldn’t help but notice all the different breeds of cast-off furniture,” she notes. “A majority of the furniture found on the curb was upholstered. It was either ripped, stained, pilled, worn or old fashioned. However, most frames of the furniture appeared to be in good condition.”
She decided that upholstery needed to be her focus, first designing the modular cube cushions that could easily be repaired – an alternative to tossing out an entire piece of furniture if the upholstery became damaged. The option also allowed for customization and improved longevity; the furniture could always have the trendiest fabrics and allow for personal creativity.
Wanting to make the whole product sustainable, Pankowska uses sustainably manufactured pressed bamboo, which grows faster and releases 35 percent more oxygen than a forest of trees equivalent in size. The upholstery combines 100 percent natural latex foam with natural and recycled fabrics, and the furniture is also designed to be flat-packed for assembly, with parts that are replaceable.
“With this concept, my furniture could be accessible for shipping worldwide, so anyone could have access to a sustainable product, and the company could take care of the furniture’s life by offering a recycling program for upholstery tiles and a repaired parts program to replace parts,” she explains.
Evolution and Milestones
There have been a series of changes, modifications and milestones reached since Pankowska started her project years ago.
For one, since the onset, the upholstery tiles have gone through at least four major modifications. There was even a version of tiles with magnets, which did not work out, Pankowska says. “Through testing, the design has evolved to where it is today, and I am sure will continue to improve.”
One of the biggest milestones was finalizing the upholstery tile design for a patent, which up until that point has been kept a secret for at least six years. As soon as the patent – which is currently pending – was filed the designs could be made public.
“This upholstery tile idea is so much fun I didn’t want to compromise its sustainable mission with someone making a cheap plastic knock-off,” Pankowska explains.
Other milestones include:
- Officially launching September 10, 2018. It was the first day the products were made available for sale to the public through reforestdesign.com
- Exhibited at the Vancouver Interior Design Show, September 26-29, 2018
- Published within Milan’s DESIGN FOR 2019 Book
Pankowska has plenty of plans and ambitions for Reforest Design in the months and years ahead including:
- Releasing all her design ideas, which extend to headboards, benches, ottomans, lounge chairs, futons and more – all of which are FSC, CE, CARB and ISO certified
- Selling Reforest Design furniture in select retailers across Canada and the U.S.
- Continuing to express her creativity through design and solve any problems that come her way
- Releasing an upgraded website
“I hope to release a website that offers a 3D interactive design interface for customization and preview of furniture,” she says. “Additionally, release an online trading post and an extensive collection of fabric options in the upholstery tile archive.”
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