These days, labels like “green” or “sustainable” are thrown around a lot in our industry. But what does it really mean to be a sustainable furniture brand?
Here at Resource, we often talk about how our products facilitate a more sustainable lifestyle: our transforming systems allow you to use a single space for any number of purposes, meaning you no longer need separate rooms for different activities. In this way we can physically occupy less space — to build, heat, cool, and power — greatly reducing our carbon footprint.
We know that operating a truly sustainable business in our modern global economy involves so much more: from material quality and sourcing, to product longevity, greener manufacturing methods, the rights of workers throughout our supply chain, and the conservation of resources for future generations.
While lookalike wall beds may masquerade as comparable pieces at exceptional pricing, these mass-produced knock-offs do not take any of these environmental or humanitarian factors into consideration. The origins of these products — where it comes from and how it is designed, manufactured, and distributed is a mystery. All that matters is that it can be had cheap and fast.
We believe that our clients, our workers, and our planet deserve better.
It’s no secret that sustainable furniture starts with responsibly sourced, high-quality materials. That is why our premium line of Italian-made wall beds are constructed with composite wood panels, which contain a minimum of 90% recycled and reforested wood product. No trees are cut down in the production of our wall beds, and the use of recycled composite wood helps divert thousands of tons of post-industrial and post-consumer waste from landfills.
“There are several reasons we use composite wood for our wall beds,” Resource co-founder Ron Barth explains. “First, the composite wood is lighter than solid wood. These products are delivered throughout the world, flat-packed, 300-400 boxes to a container, so it’s much easier to transport if the product is lighter.”
“It also stays truer. The wall bed’s patented mechanisms necessitate that the product never warps. You can’t have wood expansion and contraction because the mechanisms need to operate within the case that they’re contained in. A composite wood product guarantees that the material will not change or warp over time, and it’s completely durable in that respect.”
Those products that are manufactured with new chipboard panels are made of renewable, controlled, virgin wood rated E1 or better. They contain the highest quality raw materials to allow for a 35% reduction of scraps while also reducing energy consumption — and just like our wall beds, they contain absolutely no formaldehyde, ever.
Resource Furniture takes great pride in the fact that our entire product collection is CARB2 and TSCA Title VI compliant.
CARB stands for California Air Resource’s Board, a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. CARB2 is the second generation of California’s two-phase composite wood product regulations, first implemented in 2010. That same year, CARB2 was also adopted as the national standard for formaldehyde emissions, known as TSCA Title VI.
The goal of these regulations is to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB), medium density fiberboard (MDF), and more. The regulations also apply to composite wood used in finished products, such as cabinets, flooring, shelving, baseboards, and of course furniture.
While almost everything naturally contains some trace levels of formaldehyde, CARB2 and TSCA Title VI capped the quantities being used in the manufacturing of these composite wood products to the levels naturally occurring in wood — approximately .05 parts per million.
Our CARB2 and TSCA certification guarantee that no formaldehyde is used in our furniture’s manufacturing process, nor do our products emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. This phenomenon, commonly known as off-gassing, can have detrimental effects on indoor air quality and, in turn, on the health of inhabitants.
“We actually worked with Clei very closely so they understood the necessity of adopting this,” Barth explains. “Producing VOC-free products with VOC-free finishes is essential to the environment and to the health of individuals. When you’re living in a smaller space, and you’re using your furniture for more hours per day and your furniture is off-gassing, this becomes significant.”
“That new furniture smell is off-gassing,” Barth continues. “When you walk into one of our showrooms, there is no new furniture smell.”
This is because Resource Furniture’s products use only water-based lacquers, paints, and glues to minimize environmental impact and protect the health of our customers.
Our manufacturers also take extraordinary care to reduce environmental impact at every stage of the assembly process, utilizing high-tech manufacturing methods and machinery to recapture sawdust and gas by-products that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
For instance, wall bed manufacturer Clei cuts and seals their composite wood panels via a highly sophisticated process:
“The panels are cut inside a vacuum chamber to capture any sawdust that’s released,” Barth explains. “As the panels are cut and move through the machinery, the sawdust is vacuumed up and stored to be recycled.”
Clei uses a similar method to achieve their edge-banding, the process by which composite wood panels are sealed along the edges to create a clean, seamless look:
“Clei’s edge-banding is also done inside of a vacuum chamber,” says Barth. “The edge-banding machine works by way of a laser that heats the water-based glues inside the panel. With extreme pressure, the seals are then bonded to the edges of the panel.”
“There is a gas by-product that’s released by this edge-banding process, but because it is done inside of a vacuum chamber that gas is actually captured and stored in canisters. A specialty company then comes and removes the captured gas from the canisters and recycles that gas. The level of care is just remarkable.”
Our wall beds are unique in that — unlike imitation wall beds — ours is a completely original, proprietary design. From the product’s design aesthetic, to the patented mechanisms and hardware, to the numerous built-in safety features, every aspect of our wall beds are designed, manufactured, and rigorously stress-tested by Clei to meet the strictest quality standards in the world.
“Most wall bed companies are using off-the-shelf mechanisms from standard hardware manufacturers. Clei is completely unique in this respect because they began their wall bed business as a proprietary design,” says Barth. “Their designs are all patented, and they’re all Clei’s and nobody else’s. You can’t buy a Clei mechanism from Clei, you can only buy a Clei wall bed from Clei, and you can’t buy a Clei mechanism from another hardware company.”
Each of our Clei wall beds utilizes one of two highly sophisticated patented mechanisms: Our Penelope and Kali series wall beds utilize a mechanism made of five-way folded steel, while our Nuovoliola, Ito, Swing, Tango, and Oslo series wall beds use a mechanism constructed from extruded aluminum. Each design features a patented locking feature that keeps the bed locked in the upright position when the bed is closed, as well as a locking mechanism to keep the bed down when the wall bed is opened. And unlike lookalike wall beds, our operating mechanisms are completely hidden within the structure of the bed for a clean, modern look.
“You don’t see a piston, you don’t see any gears — there’s nothing to see. The bed just seems to magically work,” Barth says.
These systems undergo strict ISO 9001 testing — an international standard of quality management — to ensure that they are completely fail-proof, able to withstand various stressors, and capable of retaining their tolerances and workability over the course of several decades of daily use.
ISO 9001 testing requires our operating mechanisms to be tested over 10,000 repetitions, “and if the product fails at the 9,000th repetition they have to go back to the drawing board,” Barth adds. “It’s kind of an unbelievable thing, and this is how we are able to give a lifetime warranty on all of our Clei mechanisms.”
“Our lifetime warranty is a key element in our business because we want it to be understood that this furniture is not disposal,” Barth explains. Unlike the cheaply made “fast-furniture” that has come to pervade the industry, our products are designed to have lifetime after lifetime of use.
For proof, just look to Clei’s founding Colombo family, whose original LGM wall bed system from the 1970s is still in use today in their summer home.
“These products are sold in Florida, in South America, in the Caribbean,” says Barth. “They are sold all throughout the world in incredibly humid climates, yet there are no problems — not a single delamination. Once the products are delivered and installed, they are practically indestructible — and that is precisely why we can offer a lifetime warranty.”
And because of their modular design, if one part or panel of your furniture system becomes irreparably damaged in some way, that piece can be replaced and the system can still be enjoyed for years to come — which greatly reduces stress on already overburdened landfills.
When workers are treated with respect and can practice their craft in safe working environments, that’s reflected in the end product.
Resource Furniture works very closely with every company in our global supply chain from our manufacturers to our installers. Our co-founders personally see to it that these employees are treated fairly, and that their health and safety is protected in the workplace. Our products and mechanisms are manufactured only in countries that conform to the International Bill of Human Rights on issues such as equal pay for equal work, equal protection under the law, freedom of association, the right to own property, and non-discrimination. In other words, the people who build, finish, ship, and install Resource Furniture are treated with dignity and respect, paid a fair wage, and receive necessary benefits.
“Our whole supply chain is in Europe, where workers receive paid vacation time, health care benefits, and social benefits,” explains Barth. “It’s a very skilled labor force, highly paid, and it’s one of the reasons why our furniture is not the least expensive option. But we don’t want to be the least expensive option — we want to be the highest quality, the most sustainable, and we want to have the most cared-for staff.”
That may not be important to the bargain shopper who is willing to settle for a knock-off of our transforming sofa bunk bed, but we believe our customers care not only about the quality of the product but about the quality of life of the people making the products.
At Resource Furniture, we are fundamentally committed to the well-being and happiness of our colleagues, our valued customers, the betterment of our communities and our earth. We remain focused on these commitments every day — and it is why our own staff are also fairly compensated and have access to healthcare, profit-sharing, and 401k programs.
“For a small business, we have the benefits of huge business,” Barth says. “That’s what we believe in. That’s what we want to give our customers, and that’s what we want to give our staff.”