DuraOcean®, the first mass market garden furniture made from recycled ocean plastic waste, is taking the UK market by storm. After being crowned Best New Product at the SOLEX exhibition at the NEC in July, manufacturer LifestyleGarden® and its parent company ScanCom International has witnessed huge interest from garden furniture buyers who are increasingly demanding sustainable products – with interest coming from sectors as diverse as garden centres, restaurants, hotels and cruise liner operators.
DuraOcean® was an initiative of ScanCom International CEO Stig Maasbol, who led the team and turned his vision into reality. Here, we introduce ScanCom’s award-winning designer, Inbal Kahaner, and reveal how her design brought DuraOcean® to life, focusing on why it is fast becoming the must-stock garden furniture product of 2020.
Inbal – what inspired you to become an industrial designer – and did you know from a young age that this is what you wanted to do?
As far back as I can remember, I always had an interest in creating, building, assembling or fixing broken items. I was always interested in how things work, what material they are made of, and the story behind the product. I still remember a time when I went shopping for a dress, and came home with a fancy new toolbox instead, smiling and excited!
What type of products did you design before joining Scancom International and how did these opportunities shape your career?
From the start of my professional life, I have specialised in designing and developing products for mass production, focusing on furniture and mould-injected products. My furniture designs have been sold worldwide over the years in various markets, including Europe and America. Each product sold is a new and unique adventure, which shapes me as an industrial designer, and as a person. The best part of being an industrial furniture designer is traveling the world and seeing your own creations being used in random restaurants, hotels or even just on a private balcony.
Scancom International and LifestyleGarden have a strong environmental ethos. How do these principles fit in with your own views on green issues?
One of the reasons I joined ScanCom is that, from the outset, I could see potential opportunities for
co-operation, sharing our passion for innovation with the company’s well-balanced approach to nature and technology. ScanCom is a dynamic place, which demonstrates a good balance between meeting customers’ needs and leading the industry. Sustainability was always a main aspect of ScanCom’s DNA, but the initiation of DuraOcean® ocean plastic is one of the company’s most exciting breakthroughs. ScanCom has demonstrated how a vision can be transformed into reality, believing in the concept throughout the process and making all the effort and investment that was required – even when, at times, the road ahead appeared to be impossible.
What inspired your award-winning design for DuraOcean® and did any challenges have to be overcome?
During the design process I created a fresh, new interpretation of the traditional slatted outdoor look by merging it with a soft and embracing shape that can also be used indoors. The length of time between an idea and the resulting mass production product is very long, and the process involves examining every tiny detail. It took more than a year of development to find the balance between the perfect shape, the right comfort and the best production method. There were many risks involved. Investment in tooling and processing was high, as this was a new material which needed to be carefully tested and studied. The first time I saw the chair coming out of the mould was a magical moment for me.
What trends are shaping the global (and UK) markets for outdoor furniture and what features are shoppers asking for? How will DuraOcean® meet consumer demands?
Modern consumers are more and more aware of their responsibility to purchase sustainable products, and in most cases, they are even willing to pay a bit more. However, consumers are increasingly regarding their outdoor environment as an extension of the indoors, and this is why shoppers will not compromise on design. The DuraOcean® chair represents a recycling transformation, from harmful and polluting ocean waste into a functional and stylish piece of furniture that meets current trends. Consumers get to enjoy the added value of upgrading their living space and protecting the environment. As word spreads about the stylish, functional design, more chairs will be sold, helping to clean the oceans of polluting waste.
You relocated to work at Scancom’s operations in Mallorca. What do you enjoy when you’re not designing furniture and how does your lifestyle influence your design work?
Relocation is an awakening and inspiring experience: disconnecting from your familiar environment, everything that you have known for your entire life, and starting from scratch in another country with a different language and new people. It’s an interesting challenge that gives you a fresh perspective on life. In 2015 I relocated from Tel Aviv, Israel to join ScanCom in Ho Chi Minh in southern Vietnam, later relocating again in 2016 to join the ScanCom’s operations in Mallorca, a beautiful and diverse island. In parts it’s very rustic while other regions are modern and international. It gives me the opportunity to ride my motorbike, enjoy spectacular mountain views, then return to Palma, have a drink, and get to know people from all over the world.
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