Expect Death explores what happens when we leverage the end of a product as a new beginning. PEEL is a responsible alternative to the ubiquitous plastic stacking chair made primarily from hemp. The exhibition concept showcases the entire lifecycle of the chair, which is biodegradable and compostable.
Fast furniture is a massive problem in the design industry. Low-quality, toxic materials and the
constant pressure to keep up with changing trends lead to over 12 million tons of furniture being disposed of in the U.S. alone each year. With PEEL, the PROWL team is exploring ways of combating fast furniture from within by designing with healthier materials and incorporating an accessible end-of-life plan from the beginning of the design process. Inspired by hemp stock and how different parts of the plant are removed to be harvested for reuse, PEEL is an elevated version of the classic stacking chair that marries utility with responsibility. It serves its purpose, but only for as long as it needs to.
A lesser-known power crop with enormous benefits, hemp is celebrated in every detail of Expect Death and every component of the PEEL chair. PEEL’s structural frame is made out of a hemp-based bioplastic that is manufactured just like any conventional plastic but can be
industrially composted. Developed by M4 Factory, the material combines hemp bast fiber and
hurd—byproducts of industrial hemp processing that are typically wasted—with biopolymers.
“At M4, we approach how things are made considering people and the environment from the
onset,” says chief design officer Kyle Swen. “Many of our plastics contain upcycled agricultural waste. We can use one less pound of plastic for every pound of agricultural waste we upcycle. Products designed with less plastic are more sustainable, and these bioplastics are often stronger and lighter than their petroleum-based counterparts.”
The chair is topped off with a completely novel hemp foam cushion that is encased in hemp
bio leather. This material is also featured in the curtains that surround the installation. Due to
their different compositions, PEEL’s frame and cushion have different expected life cycles though they feature the same base material. The frame will take some time to break down, up to six months, depending on the conditions of the industrial facility in which it is composted. The cushion—developed with NYC-based material innovators Studio Veratate—is home
compostable and will decompose as fast as an orange peel. It can be quickly and responsibly
disposed of when it loses its comfort, or the user wants to upgrade with a new color or finish.
PEEL is the first product developed by PROWL Studio with M4 Factory, but not the last. The
companies—both women-founded and woman-owned—are announcing a first-of-its-kind
partnership in the industry. To reach a more responsible mass-manufactured future, they are
joining forces to see product ideas through from conception to delivery—and sometimes even
beyond, as PEEL exemplifies. Their partnership is a valuable resource for product brands with clear goals and the desire to develop and deliver more responsible, sustainable products to their consumers.
Our collaborative approach will bring end-to-end solutions to forward-thinking brands ready to usher in a new era of regenerative design.”