In an effort to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) furniture design graduate student Erica Stine created the Fly-Ash chair, a modern and eco-conscious chair constructed entirely of recycled coal waste. The sustainable furniture design concept recently earned a notable honor in the 2020 international Red Dot Design Competition’s “Home Furniture” category. 

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two gray chairs, one set back behind the other, one facing forward and one facing backward. the floor and wall behind the chairs are white squares with black grindlines.

Fly ash, the world’s most common industrial byproduct, is produced by coal-fired power plants via the burning process. Since the coal combustion product can contain many toxic minerals, U.S. air pollution control standards mandate that fly ash be captured and stored at either the coal power plants or in landfills. According to Stine’s website, fly ash for the project came from “coal waste local to Emeco production facilities in Pennslyvania.”

to the left, a green lawn. to the right, a white patio area with two gray chairs, one set back behind the other, one facing forward and one facing backward.

The chair’s eco-friendly design builds on the long-time construction industry practice of repurposing fly ash as a substitute for Portland cement and sand in concrete production. Stine produced her Fly-Ash Chair prototypes at SCAD’s state-of-the-art Gulfstream Center for Design, a 45,000-square-foot former warehouse that now houses classrooms and maker spaces. With rounded edges and sleek lines, Stine’s contemporary chair prototypes look at home in a variety of settings. 

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a room with gray marble walls and white flooring. there are two gray chairs, one set back behind the other.

“There are a million and one reasons to be sustainable,” Stine said in a SCAD press release. Stine’s design and 33 other SCAD student and alumni projects received recognition from this year’s Red Dot Design Competition, which included a jury of approximately 40 international experts. “As a designer leaving graduate school soon, it is absolutely my responsibility to contribute in a positive and productive way to the amount of ‘stuff’ we are already producing. My goal is to avoid ’empty’ furniture. I want my work to have a soul and be expressive to where someone wants to keep it around for the long haul.”

+ Savannah College of Art and Design

Images via Savannah College of Art and Design