The Lisbon Concept Seating Collection, a project designed by Associate Professor Brook Kennedy of the School of Design, has been awarded a 2022 European Project Design Award in the category of Sustainable Living/Environmental Preservation. 

Four chairs in a row, front view.
Four chairs in a row, back view.

The collection is a concept line of chairs and stools leveraging the warm, tactile, natural feel of cork for home, work and especially work-from-home environments. In particular, the collection advances the sustainable potential of molded cork composites by using an algae-based biodegradable alternative to non-renewable polyurethane binders which make up nearly 5% of present cork composites. The collection is designed to be durable and repairable while considering the product’s afterlife through frames built of recyclable steel tubes or FSC certified beech wood construction.

The project is a direct outcome of ongoing collaborations between the BioDesign Research Group at Virginia Tech and the Center for Renewable Materials (CRM) at the University of California, San Diego. Together, this interdisciplinary research consortium aims to advance circular economies by replacing non-renewable materials made from finite resources with biodegradable or reusable alternatives.

Close up of material.

The European Product Design Awards in their own words: 

“The European Product Design Award™ recognizes the efforts of talented international product and industrial designers who aim to improve our daily lives with their practical, well-thought-out creations. ePDA shares their innovative and ground-breaking products with the world.”

In the past two years, winning designs have included the work of Fuseproject/ Yves Béhar, Norman Foster and Partners, Pablo Designs and Global Design Studios including Maserati SPA and Hewlett Packard.

Brook Kennedy is a co-pi of a pending NSF Proposal to further advance these materials for industry use with members of the CRM. He has taught studios with Professor Jonas Hauptman on behalf of the BioDesign Research Group exploring potential applications across resins, binders, foams, glues and finishes. Kennedy will offer a seminar in the spring to explore applications of these materials along with other biodesign and bio-inspired design research topics.

Four chairs stacked.