Furniture is often considered disposable, but this French company wants to change that image.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or even a custom piece of furniture.
A small French company saves construction waste from ending up in landfills by turning it into stylish tables, bookshelves and chairs.
The French construction sector generates about 50 million tons of waste per year.
Co-founded by four young French architects in 2019, the Maison Tournesol design collective is fighting against this massive surplus. “The linear economy is: we take, we build, it lives and then it dies,” he says Francois Bois, designer and co-founder of Maison Tournesol. “That’s where we come in. The moment it dies, when it becomes waste.”
What is the circular economy?
In a circular economy, materials are reused and recycled for as long as possible. This creates a closed loop system in which waste is minimized and resources are conserved.
Bois ensures that Maison Tournesol helps save two tons of waste and six tons of CO2 emissions.
The Toulouse workshop is full of iron rods, metal structures and aluminum panels salvaged from the scrap yard. Sustainability is the futureinsist the architects.
“We told ourselves that in order to have a competitive advantage—because it’s very difficult to start when you’re a young architect or a young designer—we had to have something that would respond to the problems of our time, in this case the future shortage of energy and materials,” Bois explains.
“We said to ourselves: well, we are going to reuse as part of a circular economy, and that is going to be our workhorse with Tournesol.”
Does government policy encourage waste reduction?
Since March 2021, the law against waste for a circular economy (AGEC) requires that between 20 and 40% of the supplies purchased by public services come from reuse or include recycled materials.
The French Government has also introduced an Extended Producer Responsibility policy. Under this policy, producers are responsible for the disposal of their products at the end of their useful life.
“It is very important to collect the material before it becomes waste, because it is very complicated —with the legislation in France— to recover the waste,” acknowledges Bois.
“So just before it becomes waste, we recover the material to start a new cycle, we use it as raw material and then it has a life of its own.”
Streamlined and easy to assemble, mixing metal and wood, yellow, white and black, the first range of “Zero” furniture —in reference to “zero carbon, zero waste and zero effort“— launched in 2022.
Capitalizing on its success, Maison Tournesol launches its second collection, called “Mono” for its striking monochrome design.