What’s cuter than a super-colorful children’s chair? A super-colorful children’s chair made from DuraPulp, a fully compostable new paper product created in the PulpLab (a research laboratory based in Sweden). Swedish architecture studio Claesson Koivisto Rune presented the Parapu chair at Zona Tortona 2009, and it was one of the most cheerful green designs there.

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The KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the companies STFI-packforsk and Södra have been collaborating since 2003 to create DuraPulp, which combines paper pulp and PLA (a biodegradable plastic) to create an incredibly resistant paper. Only two millimeters thick, DuraPulp can bear weight, tension, and humidity, as well as temperature changes.

This extremely clever invention benefits from the inherent qualities of paper: it’s cheap, it’s light, and it’s organic. The fundamental fragility and short-life of paper are offset by the addition of plastic, which in turn makes DuraPulp an incredibly durable building material for furniture. The secret is in the recipe: Mix paper pulp and polylactic acid together, then heat to precisely 167 degrees Celsius. The plastic encapsulates the paper fibers to create a material as strong as wood, steel or hard plastic! The most interesting aspect of this composite is that it challenges the usual boundaries of paper and reveals its unlimited potential as a green material, an unlikely yet successful innovation summed up by PulpLab’s slogan: “The world will be a better place with a little more paper.”

The Parapu chair illustrates a very exciting trend we saw emerging at the Milan Furniture Fair 2009—using paper combined with other materials in furniture design in order to save wood and avoid petroleum-based plastics. Just think of Drill Design‘s amazing paper-wood stool (featured here).

For Milan 2009 Claesson Koivisto Rune heat-molded DuraPulp into colorful children’s chairs which can be stacked together—but the options for industrial production are endless. Stay tuned for more DuraPulp applications plus designs using PulpLab’s latest (and very promising) paper-composites: NanoPulp and FoamPulp. Designers, it is your turn to play!

Be sure to check out our full 2009 Milan Furniture Fair coverage for more great green designs from the show!

+Claesson Koivisto Rune


+Zona Tortona

+ 2009 Milan Furniture Fair Photo Gallery