Earlier this year, it was announced that the Norwegian urban furniture manufacturer Vestre would become the first furniture company in the world to use SSAB’s 100% fossil-free steel. Now, Vestre presents the result of the collaboration: the bench Tellus, designed by the multiple award-winning and celebrated Swedish designer Emma Olbers, who long has pushed the issue of sustainability in the design industry.
”For me, it is important that form and design follow the planetary boundaries and aim to be part of the solution in the green transition. Therefore, it´s great to collaborate with companies that also want to be at the forefront and have actually realized that we are sawing off the very branch we are sitting on. These are companies that set Science Based Targets (SBTi) to contribute in meeting the Paris Agreement”, says Emma Olbers.
Emma Olbers has worked as a designer, interior designer, and creative director for the last 20 years. She believes that sustainability and product lifecycles are key concerns and she strives to incorporate it into all of her work. Olbers wants to design good products – good in all aspects, including being good for our planet. She tries to design products with as low carbon emissions as possible, preferably made from renewable or recycled materials, carefully produced to last for a long time.
Like Olbers, Vestre also strives to be at the forefront of the green shift and has always been quick to test new technologies and solutions to constantly reduce their overall climate impact. Since traditional steel production is based on coal burning, it has a very large emission of greenhouse gases – globally it accounts for seven percent of all CO2 emissions, and for Vestre alone, steel makes up over 60% of the company’s total carbon footprint.
”That is why it is one of our prime targets for decarbonization. We aim to be recognized as the world’s most sustainable furniture company and to push the development and transition to more sustainable materials and production methods. To get there, we need to be ahead of the curve. Early estimates show that converting all our steel to fossil-free could reduce our overall footprint by around 60 percent”, says Øyvind Bjørnstad, CSO (Sustainability Officer) at Vestre.
”Vestre’s goal in using SSAB’s fossil-free steel is to inspire more people to do the same. At Vestre, we live by the motto ‘Everyone can save the world. A little’. This fits well with both Emma Olbers’ and SSAB’s visions. A natural collaboration between strong parties who all work towards the same goal, says Bjørn Fjellstad, CEO at Vestre.
Tellus is a timeless and inviting bench that encourages people to sit down and take some time off, enjoy a cup of coffee, or engage in a good conversation. The design makes it equally suitable for both parks and more urban environments. The bench got its name since it was designed ”with Tellus in mind”, in accordance with our planetary boundaries.
”The main goal was to create a bench with as few emissions as possible. An outdoor bench for public environments must also withstand a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, a strong construction is important. We have striven to use as little material as possible but still maintain the strong construction. I think it should both radiate a metal feel and a tactility, but also look welcoming, hence the wide armrests which visually is inviting and functionally provide space for the coffee cup”, Emma Olbers explains.
”Tellus is great example of what steel can be used for. There is little that is more social, tangible and accessible to people than a park bench in a public space. A place where people can sit down, talk to each other and get to know each other”, Fjellstad adds.
By now becoming the first furniture manufacturer in the world to use Swedish steel company SSAB’s revolutionary fossil-free steel, Vestre once again takes the lead and shows that the green shift is possible.
Product information Tellus Bench
Design: Emma Olbers
Material: Fossil–free steel
Dimensions: 1814 x 885 x 700 cm
Color: Available in all RAL classic colors.
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About Emma Olbers
Emma Olbers is a Swedish designer with a strong focus on sustainability. She is the founder of Stockholm-based design studio Emma Olbers Design. Amongst her clients are brands such as Asplund, Vestre, Skultuna, and Eldvarm.
Among her many projects, Emma has designed the Old Library at the Swedish National Museum for Art and Design, for which she was shortlisted in the civic and cultural interior category of the 2019 year’s Dezeen Awards. The Old Library has been overhauled by Emma Olbers Design to include a host of furnishings made from sustainable materials.
In February 2020 Olbers was chosen Designer of the Year by the Swedish Elle Deco, and in 2019 Olbers was awarded Interior Designer of the Year by Architectural Digest in Germany, for the Old Library. She was also named Designer of the Year 2018 by the Swedish magazine Rum. In 2018 Olbers was also named Forerunner for Sustainability by the Swedish magazine Residence. One of her latest projects is the exhibition Now or Never, 1kg CO2e.
Read more at emmaolbers.com
Vestre is one of Scandinavia’s leading producers of urban furniture and has created social, sustainable meeting places for millions of people for over 70 years. Sustainability, locally produced materials, and the least possible environmental impact are pivotal to the company’s furniture production. Vestre is a Norwegian family business, the products are manufactured in Norway and Sweden and are available in almost 200 different colours with a lifetime anti-rust warranty.
The factory in Torsby in Värmland, Sweden was designed by architectural firm Snøhetta, which is behind many high-profile international projects, including the library in Alexandria, the 9/11 Memorial Center in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Oslo Opera House. The firm also designed “The Peace Bench”, which Vestre and Hydro created in 2019 on behalf of the Nobel Peace Center. Vestre has been voted “Brand Builder of the Year” by the Federation of Norwegian Industries and cited as the “Best for outdoor furniture” by the prestigious design and lifestyle magazine Monocle, which has readers worldwide. In 2019, the company was voted “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Norwegian EY gala. In January 2020, Vestre was awarded their 16th DOGA award by Design and Architecture Norway. The company was given the award for its partnership with Front in the creation of Folk. In February 2020, Vestre was awarded “Best Stand” at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair in Stockholm for its sustainable stand, developed together with Note Design Studio.
The opening of Vestre ́s new factory The Plus Colour and Wood Factory in Magnor Norway took place in June 2022. The factory, which has been designed by the leading architect firm Bjarke Ingels Group, is the most environmentally friendly furniture factory in the world and is also the largest investment in the Norwegian furniture industry for decades.
About SSAB’s fossil-free steel
The Swedish steel company SSAB is already one of the world’s most carbon dioxide-efficient steel producers, but at the same time, they know that the industry as a whole still has a long way to go. Therefore, SSAB aims to make a real difference as soon as possible and lead the steel industry toward a carbon dioxide-free future. The technology for fossil-free steelmaking that SSAB has developed is based on the HYBRIT initiative (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology), which SSAB started in 2016 together with the mining company LKAB and the energy company Vattenfall. With the help of this technology, where coal and coke are replaced with fossil-free hydrogen, SSAB has the potential to reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by around 10 percent. And development is on a fast track, in 2021 SSAB successfully produced the first steel reduced with 100 percent fossil-free hydrogen. The goal is to offer fossil-free steel on the market in 2026.
Fossil-free steel is produced through a process called direct reduction, which replaces the blast furnace process used today. Simply explained, the technology is based on replacing coal and coke with hydrogen (which is also produced with fossil-free electricity, mainly in the form of wind and hydropower). The residual product becomes water, which in turn can be recycled for the production of additional hydrogen. The result is clean and high-quality steel produced entirely without fossil sources and thus without carbon dioxide emissions. Calculations show that a full-scale implementation of fossil-free steel production can reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Sweden by as much as 10 percent.
Read more at ssab.com/sv-se/fossilfri