The guys at Laisr, a design studio in Basel, Switzerland, put an ecological spin on that old chestnut: buy a great chair only once, and you'll never consume (and discard) another cheap chair ever again. Laisr is using the tweaked axiom to promote their new line of carbon-fiber stacking chairs as "green" products, despite the fact that carbon-fiber is essentially impossible to recycle, and environmentally dirty to produce.
Laisr's "ch.air" line certainly looks great–made of hollow carbon-fiber tubes bound with aluminum lugs, they premiered to acclaim at the recent Salone Satellite 2008 in Milan. The crux of Laisr's sustainability argument is that the ch.air is a piece of furniture that (1) will never break, and (2) will never go out of style. Only time will reveal the former, and the latter is just bravado. But if buying one of Laisr's chairs prevents the consumption of say, ten sawdust-and-glue Ikea chairs over a lifetime, they may indeed have a point. Case in point: Plenty of mid-century Eames shell chairs made of fiberglass (an ancestor of carbon fiber) are still around and giving good service, while their wood contemporaries have not fared as well.
David A. Greene
Dave has contributed to Dwell since its inception. He's a CalArts dropout, a former art critic for The New Yorker, and a producer of comedies on TV. He lives in, and writes from, Los Angeles.