Award-winning Oz furniture brand King Living strives for sustainability

  • Design
  • Tuesday, 16 Apr 2019

With modular designs, it is easier for King Living sofas to be repaired, separated for recycling, or given a new look instead of being thrown out entirely. Photos: King Living

From selling furniture at a local market to becoming an award-winning brand with overseas presence is certainly commendable. On top of that, the Australian company has strived to promote environmental sustainability through product design, manufacturing and packaging processes.

King Living’s history dates back to 1977 when owner and founder David King started making and selling foam furniture at Paddy’s Markets in Sydney. Today, it has over 20 showrooms in six countries.

The brand’s strength lies with its modular design, and coupled with removeable covers, it is easier for sofas to be repaired, separated for recycling, or given a new look instead of being thrown out entirely.

“Sustainable thinking starts with the design of each product we make. We design products from components. This approach ensures that if a piece is damaged, faulty or becomes obsolete for some reason, the individual component can be easily replaced, not the whole sofa,” says David Hardwick, King Living global buying manager, via email.

The company’s service team refills cushions, removes stains and repairs damages for customers.

“It’s a shame to see many other furniture products where there is a small area that’s faulty, yet the whole sofa needs to be discarded.”

“Around 10% to 15% of our customers have their sofas reupholstered or refurbished. We often have sofas come back to us that are over 20 years old, and sometimes it can be difficult to locate the patterns in the archive for reupholstering. But the amazing thing is that they often still look great on the inside and only require minimal amounts of improvement,” says Hardwick.

Cushion fillings used are also bio-degradable.

“All the foam can be recycled or repurposed at the end of its life cycle. We use a lot of feathers in our cushions – all of which are a by-product of the poultry industry and would otherwise go to landfills – which are bio-degradable,” he explains.

Bio-degradable fillings are used for the cushions.

“We have also started to replace some solid timber components in our sofas with injection moulded plastic. Solid timber is becoming a scarcer commodity, so we think it’s better to start looking for better alternatives now,” he says, adding that the moulded plastic is also recyclable.

The brand also offers a 25-year warranty on its steel frames, which technically means designs last longer and require less frequent replacement.

In terms of transportation and carbon footprint reduction, the furniture components are easily assembled without tools so that sofas can be transported in about half the space of conventional sofas, says Hardwick, adding that products are packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes.

“We recycle what little waste we create with local suppliers. We have also invested significantly in new machinery and filtration systems in our manufacturing plant which, after recent tests, has resulted in us actually producing cleaner air than what enters the plant,” he claimed.

Hardwick, King Living's global buying manager.

Hardwick says that in Australia the company is halfway through converting its premises to being solar power-friendly.

The head office currently meets 20% of its electricity needs through solar power, with plans to increase it to 55%. The ratio of green space on the premises has also been increased, with the space used to plant fruit trees and herbs for the benefit of the staff.

“We hope our recent initiatives will set a standard for our premises globally and we feel that within the next two years, we can become a leading example for green practices and a sustainable business culture,” says Hardwick.

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