For those who believe a piece of furniture, like a package of salami, should reveal all its ingredients, particularly chemicals and preservatives, a handful of New York shops have begun providing something like “nutrition facts”—but for couches. These stores specialize in home furnishings made from pure, recyclable materials, which cost an extra $100—at least—for being “harmonious” and/or a “gift to the planet.”
Grounded at ABC Carpet & Home,
Although no one who works here seems to know this, five months ago, ABC sectioned off an area of its second floor for recycled and reclaimed furniture. (Try asking for “the eco-friendly part of the store” and you’ll get transferred and redirected until you’re talking to PR.) Tables and chairs are fashioned from leftover scraps from a guitar factory, and lamps look a lot like rearranged kitchen utensils. The store also features a selection of ancient petrified tree stumps ($1,500-$5,000), which serve as stools.
458 W 17th,
Wanting nothing to do with formaldehyde or flame-retarding foams, this Chelsea studio offers eco-friendly tables, chairs, and kitchen supplies, many of them made from bamboo (100% biodegradable) or abaca, a wood-like species of the banana family. A 12 x 18-inch chopping block, which is basically a slab of bamboo, organically grown, is $78.
915 Broadway, Suite 1001,
All wood here is officially “certified” by a tree auditor so you know that nothing you’re buying was plucked from an endangered forest. For obvious reasons, prices are saddening. A bright red cocktail stool, finished in natural wax, is $1,700. The “Dot Pillow” costs $250, but is made out of satin wool and free-range feathers and its dyes have been “fully screened for human health and environmental impact.”
644 Manhattan Avenue,
2nd floor, Brooklyn,
Founder Josh Dorfman intends to refute what he calls the “Burlap Sack Theory,” the idea that environmentally aware products must be unattractive and frumpy. His two-year-old company was one of the first to carry the Brooklyn-based Scrapile line—tables and chairs, built out of discarded shreds of wood which would otherwise end up in landfills. “Green furniture is finally becoming relevant,” Dorfman says. “In the beginning, everything was so granola. Recently I saw some eco-friendly pieces appear in Lucky magazine; it’s such a change. Before they’d be limited to a publication like, I don’t know, Hippies Are Us.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2005