The World’s First 100% Bioplastics Chair, from Basque Furniture Cooperative, Alki
The Basque furniture cooperative Alki has brought us the first chair to be manufactured entirely of bioplastic, which is 100% biodegradable. The Kuskoa Bi, designed by Jean Louis Iratzoki, is molded to envelop the sitter for maximum comfort and support, and is made from a material known as “bioplastic,” which comes from plant-based renewable resources like beets, corn, and sugarcane. Unlike polluting, petroleum-based plastics, bioplastic can be recycled or composted and its production creates comparatively less greenhouse gas emissions. The wooden base is made from oak that is sourced from sustainably managed forests, making the Kuskoa Bi as eco-friendly as it is stylish and functional. An upholstered version is also available.
Iratzoki, who studied interior design at the Boulle school in Paris and industrial design at the Escuela Experimental de Diseño in Madrid, set up his workshop in the Basque Country in 1998 and has been designing eco-friendly products for socially responsible companies since 1998. After the decline of the traditional furniture sector in 2005, the CEO of Alki approached Iratzoki to help steer the company toward new markets. Alki had been making furniture in the Basque Country since 1981, when the group of five friends started a small chair factory with the aim of creating jobs in a weakly industrialized region. Their cooperative culture and commitment to environmental sustainability made a partnership with eco-friendly designer Iratzoki a logical step in Alki’s development.
The first collaboration between Iratzoki and Alki was the Emea collection, which debuted in 2007 and features oak wood with components that appear to be carved from a single block. The collection drew a great deal of attention when it was presented at the Maison&Objet trade fair in Paris, and put Alki at the forefront of the boutique furniture sector. The Laia and Kuskoa collections continued to establish Alki as a modernist, eco-friendly company and today they furnish the MuCEM restaurant in Marseille, the offices of Quicksilver, the head offices of brands such as Hermès and Levi Strauss, as well as contemporary houses and traditional apartments.
The Kuskoa Bi is seemingly modeled after the fiberglass Eames chair, one of the first chairs to be industrially mass-produced. Alki’s version has been updated to provide maximal back and arm support, and uses much more eco-friendly materials. This chair could be at the forefront of a trend in using bioplastics to create stylish, sustainable furniture that is available commercially. If you’re interested in learning more about Alki and where you can buy their furniture, you can contact them through their website. And with a Basque wife named Itzaskun, how could I not get some?