ecoBirdy children’s furniture: a whole system of circular design

Based in Antwerp, the designers behind ecoBirdy did not merely create another children’s furniture brand, they created a whole system: from the collection and recycling of old, unused plastic toys to the design and production of the furniture (all done in Europe).

In order to introduce youngsters to the concept of circular design, ecoBirdy has chosen to design an accompanying storybook and school-programme, so they can inspire children to contribute to a more sustainable future. It was essential to Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel (the founders) that each step of the system was based on social and environmental responsibility.

The story of ecoBirdy…

Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel: Social and environmental responsibility always meant a lot to us, personally and professionally speaking! After years of working in the design and fashion industry we were questioning ourselves: why creating something new if so many good designs already exist? With today’s environmental problems and climate change in mind, we wanted to create something appropriate for our world. ecoBirdy is the result of two years of very intense researches and studies about plastic, plastic toys and it’s upcycling. During our researches we found out that plastic toys are among the most intensive uses of plastic of all consumer goods. Children grow fast and their abilities and interests shift even faster, therefore toys are abandoned soon. This was when we came up with the idea of giving these toys a new life, bringing them back to children to stay for longer, and so introduce kids to the circular design concept.

A new process for plastic recycling

Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel: Plastic is a versatile material, but became very guilty in recent years. While we were developing our brand, besides focussing on the production of our collection made entirely out of recycled plastic we did keep in mind also post-consumption. What happens with our products after their “lifetime”? Creating pieces that were entirely and easily recyclable was essential for us.

We have developed an innovative process for the recycling of plastic, it is more efficient and ecological than before. Further we have created our own formula to bind the material, which results in a unique character and adds special aesthetics to our furniture. Small visible pieces of recycled plastic make up the unique speckled look of our collection and make the pieces recognizable results of recycling: this was a conscious choice to show that waste material can be transformed into something beautiful. Working with recycled material is not simple but it is absolutely worth it.

The key points to create a truly eco-sustainable brand

Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel: ecoBirdy creates design furniture pieces that are entirely made of recycled plastic and are also easily and completely recyclable again, 100% recycled + 100% recyclable. The concept of circular design, social and environmental responsibility are the most important values for our brand. We do implement them in every step of our business and within our everyday operations. We have involved a sheltered workshop here in Antwerp, where the collected plastic toys are unpacked and sorted in a first step to remove batteries or other unwanted material such as textiles. We minimalize the packaging material, use as few as possible packaging materials inside the boxes. Our storybook is printed in Belgium on recycled paper and packed in compactable plastic. All promotional materials we use are printed on recycled paper or with CO2 responsible label. Besides the fact that our furniture pieces are entirely made of recycled plastic as well as recyclable, we have chosen to design a book and a school programme in order to introduce youngsters to the concept of circular design. We want to inspire other people to contribute to a more sustainable

Interview with with Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel (ecoBirdy founders).

Photography: Ulrika Nihlen.

Content Credit: ©ecoBirdy and Through Objects.