David’s personal life and his design work are inseparable, both rely on nature for nourishment and inspiration. The company David runs is respected globally for its early awareness of sustainable practices. David aspires to lead, not follow, green business models.
He has recently shied away from some green credentials often seen on products can be misleading and even 'green wash'. Our realization is, that the most important thing for a company to be is transparent.
Sustainability is a prime focus of our company and has been from the very beginning when David started making furniture. In the early 2000’s David’s sustainable efforts were unique in the business environment and he was part of the environmental awareness movement. Now every company claims to be 100% sustainable, carbon neutral or green. When making purchasing decisions in the current day we now are having to look past those initial claims and see what companies are really doing on the shop floor and in the design studios to make the right decisions and be fully responsible for their operations.
Made in New Zealand
In September 2011 the Company moved into new premises in Whakatu, which was built with as many eco features as possible. It was the first wooden-framed commercial building in Hawkes Bay and features LED lighting, insulated ceilings and a workshop with fully piped underfloor heating. Fruit trees have been planted to create a living food source on the property, we also allow locals to use our property for beekeeping (four hives on site) and grazing (two cows). We chose Meridian Energy as a supplier due to the 100% renewable energy they generate. All waste from the factory is sorted into relevant categories and sent to recycling facilities at our expense; sawdust is clean incinerated at local plant to generate electricity; food waste is composted. By manufacturing our products here in our factory we can control all processes including being aware daily of the waste we produce and find ways to reduce it. For example, waste sent to landfill is currently one 240L 'wheely bin' per fortnight (similar to one household).
"I want to reassert that connection with, and respect for, nature so that we care more...for the earth that gives us life and the rest of humanity who share it with us."
In the mid 2000's we commissioned a Life Cycle Analysis (with assistance from Landcare Research) of our products which revealed the 'hotspots' in our operation. One negative aspect made clearer to us was freight. So we have redesigned most of our lights so that they can be sent as kitsets and easily assembled at home by anyone. We created a whole process that empowered our customers as we were effectively involving them in the creation of the product. We named it the 'Seed System' and it starts at the point of design following right through to production, packaging, in-depth easy-to-follow instructions (or video tutorial) and a global freight and distribution network. This opened up a much larger (and further away) market for us which has grown to include commercial applications due to being able to send in flatpack huge (2.4 metre high) versions of our lights.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)
We didn't stop there. In April 2015 after 3 months working with thinkstep (formerly PE International) we obtained an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for our Seed System lights (covers most kitsets). This gives us a greater level of transparency as an EPD is best described as a nutrition/ingredients label (like you find on the back of a food item) but for a company or product. They are developed according to international standards, third-party verified and earn points under green building rating systems such as Green Star (Australia), LEED (USA) and BREEAM (UK).
An EPD is a standardised and verified way of quantifying the environmental impacts of a product based on a consistent set of rules that have been developed through a stakeholder consultation process. It contains information on the material composition of the product, the product’s carbon footprint and other environmental indicators. Read the thinkstep blog post about our EPD accreditation.
"It is not just a matter of designing better objects, though that is of course necessary. We must design better ways of doing things."
Our environmental ethos also takes into account the wellbeing of our team. We believe family comes first and work second, we work to feed our families but our work must also feed us. It must develop our skills and mind and give us a sense of pride that we are moving something along together.
Our new building is much more satisfying to work in as it has underfloor heating (by means of energy efficient pump) and has copious amounts of natural light flooding the work spaces. Every Friday we get together for a shared lunch and share stories from the week.
The materials we use
- All bamboo (our primary material) is a secondary product, from renewable forests in China grown as a food source. The factory is FSC certified.
- Harmful toxins are avoided throughout. Bamboo plywood and MDF boards with an E0 glue rating are used, so there are no risks from formaldehyde. Where a finish is required water-based paints are used.
- All products are designed to generate a minimal amount of wastage and are nested as closely as possible when cut.
Our products use only the minimal amount of materials and are generated with a focus on longevity, rather than mimicking quick-moving trends. Shipping and freight is often reduced by the introduction of the Seed System. These come flat packed and ready for the customer to assemble. Larger, more complex kitsets are also shipped as flat packs, with distributors constructing them in preparation for the market. Because the intentions of our design process lie in artistically representing or retelling nature, or designs feel that way. We don't design to sell or satisfy markets.
"All products are designed to generate a minimal amount of wastage and are nested as closely as possible when cut."
What they say about us
"I recently bought one of your small Kina lights, which I love. It was such a sense of achievement when I finished putting it together"
"The pleasure also came from the perception of its soul. I believe that the soul when it is there in things, talks directly with our own."
"The effect of the light and shadow created by it's fullness and emptiness we overwhelming. I was also struck with what seem to exist in the object - how it was possible to get a result so delicate and organic from the assembly of a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are all identical, rationally designed and industrially reproduced."