15 Strangely Stylish Sustainable Furniture Designs


From drinking straws to bicycle parts and airplane wings, who says your furniture has to be made of custom first-run materials? As sustainability becomes more a part of mainstream culture and the masses embrace the idea, eco-friendly furniture designers are getting more daring with creative materials and concepts. Sometimes that translates into stunning, stylish pieces that are easy to integrate into everyday life, and sometimes the results are a bit bizarre.

Self-Inflating Chair Dress


(images via: Joo Youn Paek)

Not many people would consider the idea of walking around with a giant inflatable butt that wobbles up and down with each step you take, but artist Joo Youn Paek isn’t deterred by embarrassment. Her ‘Self-Inflating Chair Dress’ is a wearable piece of furniture made of a pair of shoes, pumps and polyethelene. As demonstrated in the video above, when the wearer walks, air is pumped into the dress to blow up the derriere-area of the dress. The wearer can then sit comfortably – for about 10 seconds, until the dress deflates. Bizarre, but brilliant.

Flatpack Downloadable Furniture


(images via: Peli Design)

Dutch designer Alexander Pelikan has designed some super-modern, flat pack furniture that you can build yourself by downloading the plans online. He hopes that downloadable furniture is the wave of the future, saying “The future could be fully digital furniture where the customer only buys the file needed for manufacture, steps to the closest milling facility and lets his piece be produced locally on the spot.  And in this way ‘immaterialized’ product would cut down a lot on transport- and material costs, be very environmentally-conscious and above all it would broaden the freedom of design…”

Tables Made from Car Panels


(images via: Nine Stories Furniture)

The ‘Elsie Series’ by Nine Stories Furniture reclaims automotive sheet metal for reuse in furniture such as tables and shelves. Over 70% of each piece in the series is made from this otherwise wasted material. Nine Stories found that the automotive paneling worked great not just from a sustainability standpoint but from an aesthetic standpoint as well.

Bedside Table Turns into Bat and Shield


(images via: James McAdam)

Worried about home security? The ‘Safe Bedside Table’ is designed to make you feel more secure. This two-in-one design transforms from a bedside table into a bat and shield so you can fend off invaders. Just throw your lamp out of the way, take it apart and start flailing away. It might work even better if the intruder sees you pulling the table apart to use it against him, just for the shock factor.

Airplane Wing Writing Desk


(images via: Reestore)

Nobody knows stylish recycled furniture like Reestore, the contemporary eco design firm behind the bathtub chaise, the shopping trolley chair, the wash drum table and the ‘Deborah’ airplane wing writing desk, pictured. Sleek and simple, this design takes the use of airplane parts as furniture out of the realm of novelty and into usability.

Magazines and Junk Mail Transformed


(images via: Artists for Humanity Boston)

ReVision tables, created by teen artists apprenticing at Artists for Humanity in Boston, are meant as a response to the growing market need for innovative sustainable design. They’re made from reclaimed junk mail and magazines, rolled up and stacked together in the form of tables which are then finished with non-VOC eco-friendly resin that makes them water-resistant and easy to clean.

Inflatable Garbage Chair


(images via: Nick DeMarco)

Don’t toss those plastic bags and bottles into a recycling bin – you could be using them as furniture. The XS chair, designed by California College of Arts student Nick DeMarco, utilizes a clear plastic casing that holds discarded materials. It’s not just an art project, though – DeMarco actually got a production deal with Wal-Mart, which will distribute it for $60 each.

Chairs from 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles



(image via: Cohda + Inhabitat)

Cohda Design makes chairs out of 100% waste plastic. The chair is called ‘RD4’, with RD standing for ‘roughly drawn’. How appropriate considering that the chair looks like a sketch come to life.  The second photo, via Inhabitat, shows how the chair is made by winding the extruded plastic around a form.

Stylish Furniture Made from Bicycles


(images via: BikeFurniture.com)

The collection of recycled bicycle furniture by Andy Gregg goes beyond the table previously featured on WebUrbanist – Bike Furniture Design takes old bicycles and breathes new life into them, resulting in gleaming chrome creations with a sleek, modern look. Some designs use additional recycled parts other than bicycles including automobile windows as tabletops and automotive seat belt webbing for seating upholstery.

Tennis Ball Benches


(images via: Inhabitat)

A steel frame and dozens of tennis balls makes for comfy seating at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Dutch designers Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen say the same qualities that make tennis balls bouncy make them perfect for cushioned, sturdy seating. Unfortunately, it seems as if brand new tennis balls were used for this project, but if the designers had teamed up with tennis players to use discarded balls no longer fit for playing, it would have been quite a smart ecological design.

Drinking Straw Furniture


(images via: Promise Design)

Promise Design found an unexpected way to reuse thousands of drinking straws by stacking them together to create a chair and ottoman. The simple design doesn’t involve much more than that, but it’s certainly a creative way to prevent such items from ending up in the waste stream. In addition to the chair and stool, a lampshade and partition are available.

Recycled Human Hair Chair


(images via: Trendhunter + Ecolect)

Pounds and pounds of cut human hair is hauled to landfills from salons around the world every week. One designer realized the potential of this untapped renewable material and found a way to mix it with a matrix to produce a strong material that could be used as an alternative to fiberglass. The ‘Stiletto Chair’ by Ronald Thompson is made of 4.5 pounds of hair and though the bronze-coated prototype costs $15,000, Thompson is looking to develop less expensive models.

Human Nest Chair


(image via: The New York Times)

The ‘human nest chair’ by Emily Pilloton is entirely constructed of cast-off scraps. Pilloton was inspired by the way birds use detritus for their nests and wanted to apply that concept to the human home. So she found a discarded papasan chair, built a base from scrap wood and scavenged bins behind a fashion design school for fabric. It took her six months and 40 yards’ worth of fabric scraps to complete the chair.

Meander Transforming Ottoman


(image via: Talus Furniture)

Is it a stool? An ottoman? A lounge chair? Basically, it’s whatever you want it to be. The “Meander” by Talus Furniture uses polygonal shapes attached with zippers that can be manipulated to serve you however you need it to. Such a design could allow you to cut back on the amount of furniture you have to buy for your home. You could probably create some pretty fun Frankenfurniture with it, too.

‘Perch’ PVC and Copper Pipe Resting Spot


(image via: The New York Times)

The ‘Perch’ chair by Rich, Brilliant, Willing doesn’t exactly lend itself to cozying up with a book or relaxing after a rough day on your feet. It’s more of a ‘resting spot’, and beyond that, a symbol for the need to view materials in a new way. Made of PVC and copper pipes, the $900 ‘Perch’ could be a great seat for an artist working at an easel.