The Natural

Swedish furniture manufacturer Lammhults’s new Imprint chair, designed by Johannes Foersom and Peter Hiort-Lorenzen, employs a new material with the potential to revolutionize furniture production. Made from recyclable, environmentally sound cellulose—the chief component of plant-cell walls— “Cellupress” was developed by Foersom and Hiort-Lorenzen in collaboration with Lammhults and Dan-Web, a materials manufacturer. “Plant fibers are among the easiest materials to get and recycle,” Foersom says, “but cellulose had never been used in this sort of industrial process.” After being treated with a small amount of noncarcinogenic glue, soft cellulose mats are fed into a machine that compresses them using a great deal of heat and pressure. The result is a stiff, completely smooth veneer, which combines the strength of wood with the versatility of plastic. Here the duo discusses the finer points of Imprint.

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The chair’s rectangular outline comes from cutting the long mats into squares before feeding them into the machine, where a seat is pressed into the middle. That way you see the original outline of the mat, as well as the print of the human body. So the name, Imprint, is appropriate!

We have a long tradition in Denmark of looking for more ecological methods in industrial processes. Our task has been to take plant fibers from a handmade scale to an industrial one, finding methods to mass-produce the material.

The surface is treated with a nontoxic lacquer because the material is, like wood, absorbent.

We decided on this seat for ergonomic purposes. From a design point of view we are functionalists and need reasons for forms. The seat’s form is not so much sculptural as it is a sign of the human body’s shape.

The steel legs are a very simple, minimalist framework because we want the concentration to be on the shape of the fiber shell: the legs should be practically anonymous.

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