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Flat-Packing Furniture

We noted yesterday that design — that is, products like furniture and architecture — that packs flat makes a lot of sense, and is generally a better way to do things. It requires fewer resources to manufacture and produce, is more space-efficient for shipping and allows for quick ‘n easy modularity, for when you’re on the go. If your furniture should fail you, and break, the modular pieces also make it easy to replace just the one broken part, rather than the whole piece. Here are some of our favorite examples of furniture that packs flat.

1) Our Top 5 picks for flat-pack [www.treehugger.com] include a London-based company [www.treehugger.com] who manufacture everything to order (cutting out the need to ship and store furniture before it’s bought), this groovy garden chair [www.treehugger.com] made from one sheet of sustainable plywood, and a “heavy metal” chair [www.treehugger.com] that’s created from a single sheet of perforated (and bent) steel.
2) Designer d.e Sellers came up with the “Emergency Stool” [www.treehugger.com] (pictured above) a single, mobile sheet of plywood (that would make a pretty interesting wall-hanging) but comes apart to create a handy bench. The laser-etched, international instructions (see ‘em on the big piece in the middle) make it a “snap” to put together, as it requires no tools or fasteners.
3) The Knockdown Bookcase [www.treehugger.com] is a great modular option that does the job without glue, hardware or even an instruction manual. Each piece is identical and just slips together to create a modern, modular bookshelf, and the design variations are limited only to what your imagination can dream up.
4) Factum furniture [www.treehugger.com] is sustainable, foldable, and mailable — that’s right, it’s just like getting a package through the mail. It is produced using recycled cardboard and printed with a variety of designs. The patterns are diverse and fun, from floral to the periodic table to the London Tube system.
5) In the same vein, the Papton chair [www.treehugger.com] from Berlin-based Fuchs + Funke goes from flat panels to functional chair in a couple quick fold & fit moves. The structural, geometric result is a real lightweight, weighing it at just two kilograms.

6) German designer Nils Frederking has bowled us over with his folding chair and table [www.treehugger.com] that seem to defy ordinary furniture physics with their deft foldability. Words don’t do the designs justice; you have to see the video [www.treehugger.com] to get the full effect.
7) The designers at Because We Can like to have fun with their work, which is easy to see in the Tree Stump Coffee Table [www.treehugger.com]. Aside from being flat-packable, the table uses sustainable materials and CNC (computer numerically controlled) routing to create the design with a minimum of offcuts and wasted material.
8) Combining design and engineering experience that includes Indy 500 winning racecars, composite aircraft, consumer products, and industrial equipment, Scott Bennett’s Housefish now specializes in modern, contemporary furniture. Their newest product, called Key, starts with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified maple veneer plywood, which gets a low-VOC finish before flat-packing for shipping.
9) Davidgraas has integrated brilliant packaging design into his flat-pack furniture: the package is the product, as the zero-waste design uses everything in the package to create the product.
10) Lastly, just for fun, there’s the Grass Chair (below), a flat-packing, true do-it-yourself project that allows you to grow your own furniture; you may have to see it to believe it [www.treehugger.com].