In the boardroom, the Swurve conference chair is distinguished by its light, elegantly sinuous form. But while the graceful chair boasts a standout design, its sustainable features are equally compelling. A completely carbon-neutral product, Swurve is a marquee achievement for Keilhauer, representing the culmination of a decades-long investment in sustainable design, and proof positive that the leading North American manufacturer isn’t resting on its laurels.
Throughout its almost 40-year history, Keilhauer has consistently pioneered environmentally conscious manufacturing. “Keilhauer has been a design activist from its start in 1981,” says president Mike Keilhauer, “and we are constantly working toward our goal of closed-loop manufacturing — a process in which all materials are recycled back into the system.”
With the ultimate target of re-using every material and producing zero waste, the company’s operations are routinely refined. Between 2014 and 2019, for example, Keilhauer recorded 11 per cent reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, along with an average 87 per cent success rate in waste diversion across all facilities. Keilhauer has successfully maintained a long-term commitment to eliminate all waste water in manufacturing and send nothing to landfills. All the while, 100 percent of its electricity usage is offset by renewable energy credits.
From manufacturing operations and raw materials procurement to packaging and shipping, every step of the process is carefully considered. It’s an approach that’s borne out in some of the industry’s most consciously designed products.
While Swurve represents Keilhauer’s first completely carbon-neutral offering, the company’s portfolio is a testament to sustainable principles. Consider the Tom task chair, which is supported by a product take-back program that allows chairs at the end of their life cycle to be shipped back to Keilhauer for disassembly and recycling. Recycled materials also constitute up to 60 percent of each Doko pouffe, while Keilhauer’s fabric-cutting and pattern-matching practices minimize waste across product lines. A growing emphasis on local vendors and materials — including FSC certified wood — contributes to a reduction in the carbon costs of transportation and raw materials.
This holistic approach also centres around human well-being. “Environmental health and human health are inextricably linked,” says Josephine Abate, Keilhauer’s sustainability officer. A long- standing mandate to eliminate the use of all harmful “Red List” products has already ushered in products like Sky stools, which are fabricated with a carefully specified safe chromium and are 100 percent Red List compliant.
At Keilhauer’s Toronto production facility, this commitment to health, safety and sustainability steers day-to-day operations. A seven-time recipient of Canada’s Greenest Employer, Keilhauer has an eco-centred ethos that translates into a culture prioritizing health, safety and environmental consciousness, along with a company-wide profit-sharing program to ensure equity and fairness. “We have employees who have been with the company for 10, 20, 30 years,” says Abate, highlighting the workplace bonds nurtured since the company’s founding. And while the goal of closed-loop manufacturing requires expansive — and innovative — thinking, Keilhauer’s philosophy is built on the simple understanding that sustainability starts with people.
This content was published by Azure on behalf of Keilhauer.
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