Founded in Chicago in 1950 by the former MoMA curator Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.,
together with such pioneers in modern design as Charles and Ray Eames,
Russel Wright, George Nelson, and Eero Saarinen, GOOD DESIGN® honors the yearly
achievements of the best industrial and graphic designers and world manufacturers for
their pursuit of extraordinary design excellence.
REX is a multi-awarded chair designed by Ineke Hans who gets a second life by Circuform. Circuform is a new brand that gives industrially designed furniture a circular life: minimizing the use of expensive new raw materials and maximizing reuse.
REX has many lives and is the first Dutch deposit chair. The second life of REX Circuform relaunched an award-winning design by Ineke Hans from 2011. The result is REX. The design has constructively been worked out as intended. The injection molds are re-engineered for recycled material, the chair is sustainable and fully recyclable. A network of deposit stations is introduced where chairs can be returned for a refund. Chairs are checked, cleaned, repaired when necessary, and re-sold, again with a deposit. Broken chairs are shredded into valuable raw materials for new production.
If we want to move to a circular economy we also have to think about other economic systems. Circuform gives industrially designed furniture a circular life, aims to minimize the use of expensive new raw materials and maximize reuse, and takes responsibility for what they produce. The production has the lowest possible ecological impact and REX is made from recycled industrial waste such as office chair components, fishing nets, or carpets.
It proved that Italy was the best place to produce REX in Europe. The molds and production of REX could be developed in times of Covid due to the fact that regular production came to a bit of a standstill. Transport of REX to The Netherlands takes place by train to lower the transport footprint. The deposit system uses existing distribution networks in the contract and furniture world.
REX was launched in The Netherlands in October 2021. At the time of its launch, Circuform had 12 deposit stations in The Netherlands, which has increased with deposit stations in Belgium and some in Germany.
The chair is designed with a separate seat and back. The back is flexible which makes the chair enjoyable for tall, small, fat, and thin people. The seat and back can be replaced if needed or desired. The chairs can be stacked and placed in rows with or without arms. The arms make a nice surface when they stand next to each other.
The design is one aspect, but the most innovative are the recycling, reuse, and distribution strategies behind REX. Furniture is regularly used for short periods because circumstances change. The contract market has pop-up offices or temporary offices. In the domestic market, there are moves or personal circumstances. Circuform takes responsibility for its production and takes the plastic back to local collection points. It was explicitly set up to minimize the use of expensive new raw materials and to maximize reuse.
Plastic is a wonderful material. It makes REX a good chair for canteens, kitchens, and lecture theatres, and allows the springy back. Yet, too little of our plastic is recycled (in 2020 in most northern European countries only 19%). The guaranteed refund is in fact for the material that can be used again as a resource for production instead of ending up as waste.
REX is the first Dutch deposit chair and sets an example to the industry by organizing not only its distribution to the users but also the distribution from the users. By doing so Circuform takes care of its used materials and guarantees the re-use and recycling of the materials. REX also wants to make users aware of what, how, and where they use furniture and goods. A special photo series was made with Annegien van Doorn to make REX’s second life transparent for a wider audience.
REX found its way into five museum collections since its introduction in October 2021: Vitra Design Museum Weil am Rhein, Neue Sammlung München, Design Museum Gent, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam.
More exciting is that REX has a second life and performs on various levels: First, Circuform focuses on GOOD design and not only on NEW design, thus a 10-year-old chair flourishes now as it was meant to be. Secondly, the story about REX is not only about the design, but about the strategies, services, and networks behind the scene of production and consumerism, to enable circularly designed products in our world.
Circuform – a new furniture brand – gives industrially designed furniture a circular life. A collection of old legends and new heroes in Dutch design makes a positive contribution to a sustainable world. Ineke Hans – a leading Dutch Designer – designs, for international clients, furniture, products, exhibitions, and public spaces and explores new design strategies and product typologies for our future. She is a professor of Design & Social Context at the University of the Arts in Berlin.