COLLECTIBLE: What are the key questions you ask yourself before starting to conceptualise a new piece? How do the questions transform to the final narrative of the piece?
In Antwerp, where we are based, we are surrounded by vintage furniture stores. Seeing them every day, we were asking ourselves: why should we make something new, if there are so many timeless masterpieces that are still impressively beautiful today?
The answer is to make something with a profound message, from material to shape, and to the story behind it. Each item we create has to have meaning. When designing, we think about how the object can be appreciated with the passing of time and in different environments.
C: Where do you take your inspiration from?
e: Concerning shapes and forms, our inspiration comes from nature: nature generates the most beautiful patterns and shapes, where one curve leads to another smoothly, and most shapes have a biological reason or meaning. We apply this philosophy in our designs, taking into account the meaning of each detail.
Functionality-wise, it’s everything that surrounds and happens to us. Our godson Charlie inspired us to create Charlie Chair. After watching him fall from other chairs, Vanessa decided to make the safest chair for him, that would never tip over. Thanks to its ergonomic shapes, rounded edges and large seating surface, Charlie Chair is comfortable and safe for every little one.
C: How do you question or challenge functionality in your design process?
e: Functionality is very important to us, we believe form comes from function. When designing for kids, we think about the development of youngsters. Encouraging their mobility and independent learning plays a central role in our design process.
When we design tableware, we think about the people who have special needs, maybe the elderly or disabled. We believe a good design goes beyond aesthetics and material, and we should take care of the smallest detail of functionality and inclusivity.
C: How do sustainability-related questions influence your practice?
e: Sustainability is one of the pillars of our design, in fact, our ethos is “design based on social and environmental responsibility”.
We think resources on our planet are precious, so we need to make the most of them. That’s why we focus on recycled material and put a lot of effort to make the product easy to recycle again.
Circular design generates a completely different approach to product development. A concept must go beyond the point of use, functionality, and style. We must take the environment into account, and a balance of all those aspects should be reached.
We chose to keep the original colours of the recycled products visible in the new pieces, to let the flakes show the tangible result of recycling.
ecoBirdy recycles discarded plastic toys and turns them into colourful, kid-sized design furniture that is comfortable to use and easy to clean.
ecoBirdy created a system that starts with the collection of old, unused plastic toys, passes through the recycling phase and ends with the design and production of pieces of furniture. The collection of kids' furniture is entirely made of recycled plastic from European waste. Each step is based on social and environmental responsibility. An accompanying storybook and school-programme have been designed to introduce youngsters to the circular economy and inspire them to contribute to a more sustainable future.
The design, recycling and production of ecoBirdy furniture is all done in Europe.
Based in Antwerp, founders Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel come from different cultural backgrounds. After gaining several professional experiences in diverse fields of the international fashion and design industry, they found they share a vision to create solutions for environmental problems using innovative technologies.
ecoBirdy is a brand registered by Vanbriel Yuan BVBA.