Green furniture: sustainable design guidelines for the Irish furniture and wood products industry.
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This thesis presents the research and development of sustainable design guidelines for the furniture and wood products industry, suitable for sustainably enhancing design, manufacturing and associated activities. This sustainable guideline is based on secondary research conducted on subject areas such as ‘eco’ design, ‘green’ branding and ‘green’ consumerism, as well as an examination of existing certifications and sustainable tools techniques and methodologies, national and international drivers for sustainable development and an overview of sustainability in the Irish furniture manufacturing context. The guideline was further developed through primary research. This consisted of a focus group attended by leading Irish designers, manufacturers and academics in the area of furniture and wood products. This group explored the question of ‘green branding’ saturation in the market and the viability of investing in sustainability just yet. Participants stated that they felt the market for ‘green’ products is evolving very slowly and that there is no metric or legal framework present to audit whether or not companies are producing products that really embody sustainability. All the participants believed that developing and introducing a new certification process to incorporate a sustainable design process was a viable and necessary solution to protecting Irish furniture and wood manufacturers going forward. For the purposes of the case study, the author investigated a ‘sustainable’ design process for Team woodcraft, Ltd., through the design and development of a ‘sustainable’ children’s furniture range. The case study followed a typical design and development process; detailing customer design specifications, concept development and refinement and cumulating in final prototype, as well as associated engineering drawings. Based on this primary and secondary research, seven fundamental core principles for this sustainable guideline have been identified by the author. The author then used these core principles to expand into guidelines for the basis of proposed new Irish sustainable design guidelines for the furniture and wood products industry, the concept of which the author has named ‘Green Dot’. The author suggests that the ‘Green Dot’ brand or logo could be used to market an umbrella network of Irish furniture designers and manufactures who implement the recommended sustainable techniques.
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