Green interior design: Durat

The Finns are renowned for their design aesthetic: while participating in Finnfacts‘ Clean Tech Blogger Tour last week, I spent a lot of time looking at buildings and features, and always noticed the clean, simple, sophisticated sense of design that characterized the built environment. Durat, a 19-year-old Finnish company, attempts to marry that aesthetic with sustainability principles: its polyester-based solid surface materials contain about 30% post-industrial recycled material, and are themselves fully recyclable.

While the company mainly produces sheets of the material for use as surfaces, it can also be molded into forms. The bathtubs, sinks, and vanities we saw in their showroom were elegant and colorful — Durat claims over 70 standard colors, plus the ability to create custom color schemes.

The material’s recyclability, and the company’s take-back provisions, were among the chief “green” features it touted, but I was also struck by company VP Keijo Rantanen’s claim of its durability. Dings and scratches that may occur don’t mean that the material needs replacing: rather, these damages can be sanded out, with the material returned to a “new” state. This seems like a valuable characteristic for the company’s major clients of hotels and cruise ships… as well as the homeowner who doesn’t want to spend tons on replacing fixtures. Most stains can be removed with typical cleaning products.

While information on the production process was fairly general, we did learn that the material doesn’t require heat-based melting for reuse; rather, a chemical process returns it to a state ready for recycling. We didn’t learn the particular chemicals that went into this process, or whether it could be reused, but the company does claim it doesn’t emit any toxic substances, and has passed the Finnish M1 standard for substances such as volatile organic compounds, hydroxymethylene, and ammonia.

Impressed? Not? Let us know how you think this compares to other recycled/recyclable materials for baths and kitchens.

Please note: Finnfacts paid for my trip to Finland.

Image credit: Durat