Fyrn Is a More Sustainable IKEA With Its "Parts-and-Pieces" System (Exclusive)

Bianca Piazza - Author

Jan. 3 2024, Published 11:31 a.m. ET

Photo of Fyrn wooden seating and table displayed in a space
Source: Courtesy of Fyrn

Fyrn pieces from the Keyhole Collection

Here at Green Matters, we always encourage readers to purchase secondhand goods to continue the lifecycle of items that already exist, minimize waste, and save resources. And secondhand furniture shopping is particularly satisfying for those on the hunt for a funky accent chair, room-opening mirror, or solid wood dresser.

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However, for those times when people opt to purchase new and sustainably-made furniture, the San Francisco-based Fyrn furniture company offers sustainable wooden pieces that may fit the bill. Co-founded in 2016 by Dave Charne and Ros Broughton, a fourth generation woodworker, Fyrn's mission encompasses "circular design built to last."

Photo of Fyrn co-founders Ros Broughton and David Charne
Source: Courtesy of Fyrn

Fyrn co-founders Ros Broughton and David Charne

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"At Fyrn, we believe good design considers future circumstances," Dave Charne exclusively tells Green Matters via email.

Being a continuation of the 1800s Hitchcock Chair Company, Fyrn co-founder Broughton analyzed distribution, availability, and scaling challenges of furniture's past, concocting an innovative parts-and-pieces system with circularity in mind.

He says: "We want to see less furniture thrown away."

In conversation with Green Matters, co-founder Dave Charne discussed the company's parts-and-pieces system, its secondhand online shop, and the future of the furniture world. Pull up a chair — preferably one you found on the streets of Brooklyn — and lets talk eco-furnishings.

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Photo of black wood Fyrn chairs lined up against a marble top bar
Source: Courtesy of Fyrn

Is Fyrn a sustainable furniture company?

Loved by Bay Area restauranteurs, Fyrn's sustainable nature is rooted in its patented "systems approach to design."

"Stemn, our proprietary parts-and-pieces system, facilitates minimal raw material waste, efficient logistics, and easy repair and refurbishment over generations," Charne says.

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"We source all raw materials domestically and produce in the United States, shortening supply chains. We manufacture our patented hardware in house with all excess aluminum and steel being infinitely recyclable."

He asserts that Fyrn's hardware is stronger than that of other furniture companies, and eliminates cheap, hard-to-repair glue joints. That does come at a price though — for instance, the company's standard wooden chair costs $675.

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"Is a product that is produced with ZERO manufacturing waste sustainable if a few years later it is garbage due to poor construction quality or material choices?" Charne questions.

According to a 2023 article by The New York Times, U.S. residents toss over 12 million tons of furniture annually. We all know what fast fashion is; this is fast furniture. The assumption is that one particular company comes to mind, which famously sells inexpensive, assemble-at-home furniture and meatballs.

"The deep work of changing the way things are done rarely happens because entrenched players aren’t incentivized to disrupt the system," Charne continues.

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Fyrn has also made eco-friendly moves in the shipping arena.

"We can fit about six chairs in the space most companies need to deliver one. This means we aren’t shipping air, so a lower carbon footprint and more of the consumer's dollars going toward the quality of the furniture rather than the logistics to get it to them," he discloses.

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Fyrn co-founder Dave Charne on secondhand furniture: "Sometimes a piece with a little history is even better than something brand new."

Charne knows that "even the best made products need to be paired with programs to avoid unnecessary waste and easily facilitate reuse."

"Our in-home trial program allows consumers to buy with confidence while limiting the overall number of units being transported and subject to a potential return. Separately, we offer to repurchase our customer’s furniture in the future," he says. "The quality, resilience, and serviceability of our design enables us to easily get a piece back into circulation, extending its life cycle on The Annex, our online shop for vintage finishes, seconds, [and] restored items."

Think of The Annex as the company's consignment shop, offering gently used and/or refurbished Fyrn pieces between 15 and 50 percent off.

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Charne recalls a specific time Fyrn's proprietary system and programming left everyone, including the planet, happy.

"At Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, after five years with our wooden bar stools, the owner wanted to remodel his space," he recalls. "Fyrn was able to provide new upholstered seats, which allowed the owner to upgrade without disposing of the prior stools, and the old seats became components that could be utilized in The Annex."

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Dave Charne hopes the future of furniture is all about more sustainable and long-lasting pieces.

With so much excess in the world and landfills accumulating rapidly, Fyrn is admittedly creating new product. However, it does so with immense thought and innovation.

"The design boom of post-WWII manufacturing was all about experimenting," he continues, crediting legendary industrial designers Charles and Ray Eames with incredible mass production innovation. "These ideas also ushered in the likes of IKEA; a brilliant parts-and-pieces system, but one that is ultimately very disposable."

Charne and Fyrn are following in these footsteps with Mother Earth in mind: "Instead of using plastics and fiberglass, we’re focused on real materials and honed craftsmanship that has the ability to last for generations."

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