A chair to last a lifetime? The incredible story of REX

In 2010, Dutch critical furniture and product designer Ineke Hans launched a special chair: the Ahrend 380. Drawing from the principles of the circular economy, the Ahrend was made from recycled PET (the material which makes plastic bottles) and composed of just two separate components to aid transport, assembly and disassembly.

Yet Hans wanted to push this design’s sustainable credentials further. In 2021, the designer worked with leading Dutch furniture brand Circuform to produce REX which is not only made with recycled fishing nets, toothbrushes, office chair components and other industrial waste, but is also the first Dutch deposit chair.

Recycled fishing nets are used, @Annegien van Doorn

Circuform recognise that furniture is often only required for short periods of time, for example in pop-up offices or hospitality events, so have developed their deposit scheme with this in mind. REX can be returned at Circuform collection points across the Netherlands for a guaranteed €20 refund. Returned chairs are cleaned, checked, repaired and re-sold, again with a returnable deposit. Broken chairs are shredded into raw materials ready for new chair production.

In an interview with architecture and design magazine Dezeen, Ineke Hans enthused that REX is ‘a chair that will basically last a lifetime’ though conceded that ‘our society doesn’t work like that’ due to short-term office needs. The deposit scheme and the chair’s durability, however, ensures that the world can start to ‘deal with second-hand too’, as Hans describes.

The REX chair, as well as other pieces of furniture which respond to the needs and principles of the circular economy, is now on display in Court Barn’s The Creative Circle summer exhibition until 8 September 2024.

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