New York City’s Sustainable Furniture Makers
When buying furniture, it’s easy to consider the look, feel, and function of a piece. For the environmentally-conscious, however, sustainability is an equally important factor. When I am not purchasing second hand or antique furniture because of their higher quality and sustainability factors, I always ensure that the businesses I purchase from maintain sustainable building and trade practices. It should be no surprise that New York City has some of the most innovative furniture designers whose practices are good from an economic, ethical, and environmental standpoint. Here’s a look at some notable designers; let me know if you have recommended designers that I should add to this list.
Danielle Trofe Design, who recently moved into Industry City, is selling a line of lamps with shades made from mushrooms – well, sort of. This Brooklyn-based design studio is molding lampshades from a substance which consists of agricultural by-products mixed with liquid mushroom mycelium, which acts as a natural “glue.” The process uses plant parts that would otherwise be discarded, and the final product can be broken apart and composted – but Trofe wants customers to know that the lampshades won’t disintegrate in your living room. The lamps, called Mush-Lumes, start at $300 – you can buy them through the company’s online store.
Family-owned Brooklyn Reclamation designs, builds, restores, and repurposes housewares and furniture using recycled materials. Their vintage and recycled furniture has a simple, natural aesthetic and includes everything from chairs, desks, and dressers to old commercial signs and other oddities. Tables and dressers start around $300, but there’s something for every price range at Brooklyn Reclamation. You can check out their Etsy shop or visit their store on Driggs Ave in Williamsburg.
Founded in 2004, Uhuru has established itself as an innovative sustainable design firm and an icon of Brooklyn. Uhuru’s pieces, made from recycled and reclaimed materials, have been placed in the Smithsonian and Brooklyn Museum‘s permanent collections. Each piece is built by hand in Red Hook, Brooklyn and can be customized for your needs. You can browse their collection online or contact them for information on customization and pricing.
RecycledBrooklyn, a built-to-order fabrication firm, was started by brothers Matt and Steve Loftice after they moved to New York from Colorado in the early 2000s and then Alberto Baudo, owner of Fabbrica Restaurant in Williamsburg, came in as a partner. Their rustic, custom-built pieces use salvaged wood in a variety of textures and stains, making each piece one-of-a-kind. Coffee tables start at $300 and dining room tables start at $700. Each piece can be adjusted to your specifications to create a truly custom design. You can browse their collections online, or visit their showroom on Kent Ave in Williamsburg.
RE-CO BKLYN, the city’s only sawmill, makes incredibly beautiful furniture and also sells slabs of wood for any DIY-ers out there. Most of RE-CO BKLYN’s supply comes from trees that have fallen in NYC parks and streets. They mill logs in their Ridgewood location, paying careful attention to the provenance of each tree so you’ll know exactly where your oak, walnut, or birch piece came from. You can contact them to schedule an appointment to visit their shop and showroom for more information on pricing and customization options, and check out a piece Fast Company recently did about them below.
Brooklyn-based UrbanGreen designs and handcrafts furniture from locally-sourced wood, finished with low-VOC varnishes and paints to make for healthier indoor air. Designs vary from iconic trends of the past century to contemporary interpretations of traditional styles. All UrbanGreen furniture, from design to construction, originates from a 20,000 square foot facility in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and is available online or in the UrbanGreen showroom.