Q&A / DESIGN

”We believe it should be a hygiene factor for any company to know your impact and to own your impact”

SANNA FEHRMAN
On collaborating with researchers on a tool to identify — and cut — emissions
May 24, 2021

Fehrman is born and bred in Halmstad on the Swedish west coast and has now spent close to a decade working with PR and marketing, currently at Stockholm-based furniture company Massproductions.

— Our focus, she tells, has and will always be to create furniture that adds something new to the design industry, and to provide them with a quality that can withstand the tough conditions of public environments. However, we have in the recent year noticed a high request of our products from private consumers. 

So, the brand decided to develop a new e-com, their first direct-to-consumer platform, that just launched. 

— We are used to having architects from around the world choosing the materials and finishes for our furniture. But this time we could create a range on offer of products with textiles and finishes curated by Massproductions’ founders Chris Martin and Magnus Elebäck. We will also release products in limited editions here — this autumn we have a few significant collaborations that will be sold exclusively on the e-com. Exciting things ahead!

A year ago, Massproductions initiated what they call The Transparency Project. However, it quickly moved on to something even bigger and is now more of a brand philosophy or lifestyle than a project.

— It started as an initiative to investigate our environmental imprint and the working conditions of our sub-suppliers. It has been important to investigate the imprint we make, to find methods and room for improvement. We collaborated with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm to develop a tool that can identify the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, including materials, electricity, and transportation. The tools we have developed will follow us into each new development process. Today, there aren’t that many other furniture producers — at least that we know of — that have reported their imprint, that we can compare ourselves to and learn from. So, our plan is to encourage others to follow our lead and we will therefore share the method of calculating emissions with other companies in the industry, says Fehrman, continuing,

— We believe it should be a hygiene factor for any company to know your impact and to own your impact. But it might be hard to find the resources to investigate your emission. When we are done with our full range, we will have spent well over a year developing methods to do this. We hope to help other furniture brands taking their next step, by sharing the methods of calculation. After all, sharing is caring for the environment. 

What have you learnt from the project?

— That this was way too complex for me to comprehend. I’m so happy to have a group of talented product developers and engineers as colleagues, that could take on the responsibility and know-how to move forward with the calculation of our catalogue range. I’ve also learnt that if our Rose Chair is being well taken care of, and is passed down for many generations, it will actually have a positive impact on the environment as long as it is in use. This is because more Co2 is captured in the wood than it took to produce and ship it. This really shows the importance of caring for your beloved items or furniture, which is why the next step of our transparency project is to give our customers some tools to preserve the life of our products. 

Is the furniture industry less or more transparent than other industries?

— The industry is moving slowly in general, and that’s usually a good thing. It means you don’t launch 3-4 collections every year, like an average fashion company. Instead, you present a few new products per year, that will be added to your catalogue and hopefully stay in production for many years, says Fehrman. 

— We are all about being slow, but when it comes to transparency, being slow is not great. Sure, the customer doesn’t consume a piece of furniture at the same pace or to the same extent as a piece of clothing. Therefore, I think the pressure to be transparent hasn’t been as sharp towards the furniture industry as it has towards, for instance, the fashion and food industry. 

Where do you think is the best way to start in order to increase transparency in a business?

— Connect with people and brands that are ahead of you with their transparency. If you truly care about your impact, you are happy to share your wisdom! And please email us if you think it could be useful — we are happy to chat about transparency.

How will you continue to develop your own work?

— We plan to account for CO2 emissions of all furniture later this winter. So far, we have calculated four products in our collection. The next step is to find ways of improvement, for instance, we found out that one of our biggest contributors was transportation. So, we have now started changing our ways to be even more efficient and eliminate unnecessary trips between suppliers. We have also started to have dialogues with our suppliers about obtaining their power from a more environmentally friendly source, going forward this will always be taken into account when we’re looking for a new supplier, says Fehrman, adding,

— The next step in The Transparency Project is to focus on upcycling. We believe that our design withstands the test of time, but its surfaces might get dull, stained, or so. So, we want to provide the right tools to give new life to our furniture that has gotten a bit of dirt under its fingernails. More of that later this fall.

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