Ken Tameling breaks down the innovative re-design process of the Steelcase Think
chair and how designing for sustainability can result in a higher performing, cost neutral and less expensive product- perfect for an educational setting.
“At Steelcase, we know the way to remain an industry leader in providing the best products IN the world is to ensure that they are the best products FOR the world. That’s why every step of the way – through design, manufacturing, delivery and product lifecycles – we consider the impact of our work on humans and the environment and uncover opportunities to make things better. A recent example where we successfully found a product alternative that did just that was with our Think Chair.
We initiated a redesign project to eliminate a small concentration of identified material of concern. The material we sought to replace was an integral ingredient in the product assembly. After an extensive global search, we discovered that an alternate material did not exist. However, it was our objective to completely eliminate this material from the Think Chair and our product portfolio. A project team at Steelcase was tasked with the challenge of designing a new solution that would maintain the same product performance and meet our environmental requirements. The project team focused on solutions that could be produced utilizing materials that had already been through the human and environmental health assessment process and ensured that newly introduced materials also met the assessment requirements. The team successfully designed a new solution that not only met our environmental criteria but more than doubled the durability.
An added benefit was that the new solution resulted in an annual cost savings of $44,000. This project demonstrates that designing for sustainability can result in a higher performing, cost neutral – or even less expensive – product. Our team is motivated by these types of challenges and strives every day to create maximum value while being catalysts for good at the same time. By doing so, we’ll continue to deliver innovative products and increased value to our customers and stakeholders.”