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Designing sustainable innovations: Opportunities for new life cycles within the furniture industry
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Design.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

The Linear Economy cannot any longer be sustained by the eco-system: virgin resources are limited and destined to terminate soon if the contemporary production and consumption model will be maintained. For this reason, in the last few years Circular Economy has become an increasingly discussed topic worldwide. Through the adoption of strategies that close-the-loop of the traditional linear production system, Circular Economy aims to find solutions that can create a balance between economy, society and environment. This study aims to provide a holistic overview on the main theories and strategies that can ease a business transition to a Circular Economy model, to analyse challenges and opportunities connected to this conversion and to present a concrete tool developed for this purpose. The Life Cycle Design theory is here discussed and contextualised within the furniture industry reality since this study has been executed in collaboration with IKEA, the company case study of this thesis. An academic and professional literature review have been performed in order to gather information about theory and practice related to the implementation of strategies needed by a Circular Economy: product disassembly, recovery, reuse, refurbish, recycle and remanufacturing. The professional literature reviewed point out that the implementation of a circular model can lead to economic advantages and growth’s opportunities for manufacturers in various economic sectors. The implementation of Circular Economy in the furniture industry seems to be in its early stages and it mainly focus, with few exception, on recycling rather than on the more effective reuse, refurbish or remanufacturing operations. This study points out the two main issues that the furniture manufacturers need to solve in order to enable the implementation of more effective circular strategies: product disassembly and recovery. Furthermore, the need of an innovative and holistic approach is discussed with particular emphasis on the importance of a systemic thinking that enable organisation to create their own identity and objectives in relation to the Circular Economy model. The importance of a system that connects and coordinate the sustainable efforts and aims for new products and services is therefore highlighted, suggested and deeply considered in the development of the tool proposed. To conclude, a comparison between two IKEA products (the sofas Söderhamn and Knopparp) was performed to identify the role of the products’ design and development in relation with the implementation of a Circular Economy model. The products were briefly technically analysed and then a comparison between a linear and a circular end-of-life cycle scenario has been represented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
Circular Economy, Life Cycle Design, Design for Environment, reuse, recovery, disassembly, remanufacturing, system thinking, innovation, sustainability, sustainable development, furniture industry, IKEA
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-57669OAI: diva2:1040828
External cooperation
Educational program
Innovation through Business, Engineering and Design - specialisation design, Master Programme, 120 credits
2016-05-17, Växjö, 10:05 (English)
Available from: 2016-11-03 Created: 2016-10-28 Last updated: 2016-11-03Bibliographically approved

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Comacchio, Zeno
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