Design: A lighter shade of green

Eco-friendly furniture no longer has to be dull. Kate Watson-Smyth reports on how to be chic – with a conscience

Sunday 23 October 2011 08:22

Eat, Sleep, Live

This four-year-old company uses only reclaimed wood from specialist wood yards that have, in turn, sourced it from demolition sites.

Owner Mark Godsell-Fletcher, who has worked as a graphic and fashion designer before coming to rest in furniture, makes chunky rustic furniture from reclaimed pine.

"We want to make timeless furniture that will last for ever rather than the flat-pack standardised throwaway stuff," he says. Even the company stationery is recycled as are the delivery blankets used to protect the items in transit.

The designs are fixed but you can vary the finish or size of the finished object to suit you, and at the moment everything is made to order, taking an average of 12 weeks.
(0115-916 6561;

Re-Form Furniture

Set up by Aaron Moore, this Cornwall-based company uses FSC-certified wood that is locally sourced wherever possible and combines it with recycled plastics to create tables and chairs with a strong design element to them.

Reminiscent of the Scandinavian furniture of the 1960s, Moore explains the provenance of each piece so you can choose a chair made from waste coffee cups or empty shampoo bottles.
(01209 890 084;


This is one of the better known design stores, due mainly to the fact that one of its co-founders, Oliver Heath, is a celebrity designer. The site sells a mix of stylish, ethical, sustainable and recycled objects for the home.

Each product has a coloured house by it allowing you to rate it by one of the above criteria as well as whether it's fair-trade, organic or can be recycled once you have finished with it. Products range from paints and wallpapers to cushions, towels and light fittings.

The firm's latest product is a recycled glass dinner service, which is dishwasher safe.
(020-7739 3888;


When Max McMurdo landed a job designing cars, he thought it was a dream come true. But he quickly realised that the reality was coming up with a plan for the back of a light switch rather than the car itself. Gradually he became more interested in the waste created from his designs than the products themselves.

His passion led him first to create several pieces of furniture from broken appliances and then to an appearance on Dragon's Den, where Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden each invested £25,000 in his fledgling business. Now based in Bedfordshire, McMurdo has created several new designs, including the bath chaise longue.

"We take things that would otherwise go in landfills and create something new. We had a call from a Chinese company saying they could manufacture our stuff more cheaply but we had to explain that that went against the ethos of what we are trying to do, although we are now looking at selling a higher volume of products through wholesalers," he says.
(01234 376 920;


Once you've bought the eco-furniture you will need the eco-accessories, and this is where Boutiko comes in. Each item, from cushions and candlesticks to photo frames, is graded according to whether it's organic, fair-trade or locally sourced.

The company's commitment to recycling means they reuse all their packaging so your parcel may arrive in a used envelope which the company then encourages you to recycle, and so on.

Boutiko's creator Tara Leaver, a former Montessori teacher, says: "A lot of the eco stuff looks a bit too ethnic to fit into many contemporary homes and I wanted to find things that looked beautiful and well designed while still having the green credentials."
(0844 884 8511;

Cohda Design

Cohda makes furniture from plastic waste. Plastic accounts for 7 per cent of all waste in the UK and much of that is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which mainly ends up in landfills.

When designer Richard Liddle first started researching sustainable design, he found that most recycled wood and plastic was imported. In other words, he says, "our waste was still being wasted". He spent two years examining the problem and developing a solution.

His first product, the RD4 chair (RD stands for "roughly drawn, a nod to its shabby chic credentials"), is made from 100 per cent recycled and 100 per cent recyclable material. His new version is the RD-legs, which was shortlisted in the innovation category at the House and Garden Classic Design Awards last year. It takes 475 plastic bottles and two hours to make a chair.
(0191-423 6247;

Raw Studio

A former mechanical engineer with the Ministry of Defence, Nick Rawcliffe gave up his job to study at the Royal College of Art. His furniture is made from sustainable wood certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, manufactured in the UK and flat-packed for self-assembly. All the pieces slot together.

"I think that a lot of the stuff made from rubbish looks like rubbish, so I don't buy into that," he says. "I am keen to reduce my carbon footprint and to that end our furniture is sent out in small boxes and made in Britain. We aim to be as efficient as possible."
(01279 658 400;

Eco Age Ltd

Eco Age Ltd is a one-stop shop supplying inspiration, advice and ideas for greener living. Set up by Nicola Giuggioli to connect the growing desire for both sustainable products and greener services, the firm provides everything from advice on solar panels and environmentally-friendly paints to recycled furniture. Giuggioli's sister Livia and her husband Colin Firth are investors in the company, which ups the glamour factor somewhat.
(020-8995 7611;

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