Meet USP – A Sponge Furniture Collection You Can Grown And Expand In Your Own Home

At Milan Design Week, we got to witness a range of intriguing flat-pack furniture by researchers from the Swiss design school ÉCAL. The interesting collection needs to be immersed in water to reach its final finished form. Dubbed Under Pressure Solutions or UPS, the furniture is crafted from thin and compressed sheets of cellulose sponge, which enables the products to be packed into flat parcels. In fact, some of the objects are compact enough to be pushed through a letterbox, facilitating more efficient shipping.

Designer: ÉCAL

Once you receive the products you need to soak them in the bath or shower, which allows them to blow up to around 10 times their original size in a few seconds. You then wrung out the sponge, and leave it to dry, hardening it, and forming a sturdy, durable, and self-supporting form of furniture that can support the weight of a person. The furniture collection is way better than conventional plastic foam when it comes to durability.

“Cellulose is a part of nature so, like a tree, it can be flexible and strong at the same time,” said ÉCAL researcher and industrial designer Christophe Guberan. The sponge is extracted from wood offcuts, and it is equipped with strength due to the same cellulose fibers that is utilized by a tree to reinforce its trunk and branches.

To create the sponge, the cellulose was derived from woodcuts. The cellulose was then chemically dissolved and regenerated to create sheets utilizing the same process that produces viscose and other cellulose textiles. Glauber’s salt is then added into those concoction, providing the sponge with its pores, and strengthening the cellulose’s ability to absorb water. This material is sold as standardized sheets that are then compressed and dehydrated to support smooth and easy transportation.

By adding small amounts of water, the various furniture pieces can become flexible once again, and they can be repaired by smoothing out any dents. And once the lifecycle of the furniture has been completed, it can be recycled or composted in the backyard.