In the past few years since we have really started seeing a serious approach to slow fashion products, a growing commitment from small and large brands towards a more sustainable way to do things. Still, it’s a fairly recent approach, and most of the truly engaged companies have only been around for a decade or so. Ethnicraft on the other hand, has been focused on sustainably crafted furniture for over twenty years.
A Belgian brand with well over two decades in the furniture business, Ethnicraft is a point of reference in European markets. Headquartered in Belgium, the Ethnicraft designers stem from various corners of the world, while the actual pieces are made in their Indonesian factory. A labour of love, the company has been a starting point in the industry of sustainable furnishings for quite some time – so much so that they’re growing and adding new brands to their group. Back in 2013, American eco brand Notre Monde joined forces with Ethnicraft, enlarging its reach and resources.
Whilst building beautiful pieces of furniture, the ethos of Ethnicraft as a brand revolves around sustainability. Except for a few textiles, the large majority of their products are made from wood, and each item comes from sustainable wood practices. In addition, the brand works closely with the Indonesian government towards a responsible way to manage wood.
The process behind Ethnicraft’s teak products is particularly interesting. For one, they get teak from Indonesian plantations set up by the Dutch in the 19th century, which are now managed under strict green policies regarding replanting, the size and quality of trees that can be felled yearly. Ethnicraft also purchase teak from reclaimed wood from old constructions (namely abandoned buildings and warehouses), particularly in Indonesia’s Central Java island.
The brand’s management of other types of wood is equally green. Walnut stems from American forests, while the company gets its oak from responsibly managed forests in Europe, particularly French and Serbian.
Hyper aware about every step they take, responsible wood is the core of the company’s designs, but the brand also goes the extra mile in spending as little energy as possible in the making of each product. What’s more, they have a “no waste” policy within their Indonesian factory: production waste is later repurposed into other parts of the crafting process. Sawdust is used as fuel for the drying ovens or compressed as a base for pallets; meanwhile, logs and wood leftovers are recycled as box joints for panels or base material. And that’s just part of their green way to view furniture making. It’s extremely impressive.
Craftsmanship is essential to Ethnicraft, both as a way to slow down furniture making and so every piece is truly customised. Whereby industrialisation standardised the look and feel of furnishings, the move towards returning to handmade craftsmanship ensured that no two items are quite the same. The company has a core group of highly talented designers from different parts of Europe, the Americas and Asia, all of whom use their know-how and experience to imagine beautiful, timeless objects that complement spaces without adding to the cycle of damaging our planet.
The Ethnicraft distribution centres are all certified by the Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody. The FSC is a worldwide NGO promoting responsible forest management, and with their certification is a guarantee that a product is meets the world’s social, economic and ecological needs. This NGO has several certifications depending on the materials used, and Ethnicraft has been cleared for both its use of sustainable wood and recycled timber. To ensure customers have the proper information at the tip of their fingers, Ethnicraft has made each certification visible on their website, as the company continues to work on gaining more FSC stamps.
The idea behind Ethnicraft is to go against fast shopping by building furniture that lasts beyond the quick and ruthless fashion cycle. The company’s angle is to build items to last a lifetime and further, using quality materials and classic designs with a hint of contemporary on the aesthetic side. Browsing through the beautiful tables, dressers, and more from the Ethnicraft website, it’s easy to catch the tone of the company. Simple to the point of making customers reference Scandinavian design, each item is built to be functional above all things, and then pleasing to the eye. Still, there’s a clear focus on expressing emotion through the shapes of each table, by letting the authentic and natural materials have a voice of its own.
Beautiful things designed by people who take their time to create for a better tomorrow? Count me in. The Ethnicraft approach to business and their lovely pieces have left their mark for the past two decades – and, hopefully, many more to come.