Model No.’s Quest to Design the “Healthiest” Sofa Ever

Model No.’s Quest to Design the “Healthiest” Sofa Ever

The progressive, eco-minded furnishings brand launches a new line of upholstered seating that’s free of toxins and won't harm the environment.
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"We challenged ourselves to make a sofa that was not just beautiful, with minimalist design, but also entirely nontoxic and sustainable," says Model No. cofounder and COO Jillian Northrup of the signature piece in her company’s newest collection of responsibly made furnishings. Here, FSC-certified walnut meets pure, cradle-to-cradle wool upholstery, cushions wrapped in cruelty-free down, and American craftsmanship executed on demand using clean manufacturing practices.

Since Model No. first opened its Bay Area–based factory in 2018, the direct-to-consumer design company has been turning out stylish contemporary furniture—simple yet interesting 3D-printed armchairs, benches, chaise lounges, tables, and planters—made with a single goal in mind: disrupting the industry to make it easier on the environment and our health.

Model No.’s clean-lined Platform collection—which includes a customizable sectional, a lounge chair and ottoman, and a coffee table made with locally sourced, FSC-certified walnut—is as stylish as it is sustainable.

"It’s both frustrating and motivating for us as a company," Northrup says of the ubiquitous consumer greenwashing that drove her to shake things up. She and her partners created Model No. as an opportunity to do the right thing well—and do it consistently, thanks to the brand’s equal investments in technology and design, and its purist ideals. "Too many companies overclaim what they are doing to reduce their environmental impact," she says. "It creates a lot of noise in the press, and makes it difficult for a consumer to know who is legitimate."

Take, for instance, 3D-printing. The technology can make objects quickly, but it’s often used to produce toxic, petroleum-based products that linger on in landfills. To address this issue, Model No. pioneered a nontoxic polymer derived from plant-based materials like corn husks, yucca, and sugarcane to render, layer by layer, the brand’s truly eco-friendly furnishings. Better yet, when the pieces have served their purpose, they can be returned to the factory and made into different pieces of furniture, bringing recycling full circle.

"Our products are inspired by classic American architecture and design—from the modernist furniture of Charles and Ray Eames to the environmental harmony of Frank Loyd Wright’s work," says Kevin Wildes, Model No.’s head of design.

Model No. furnishings are also more user-friendly. "Most people hardly know that their furniture off-gasses—and if they do, they just kind of ignore it, or we call it ‘that new smell’ and decide not to think about what it really is," says Northrup. "Now is not the time to lose interest or ignore. It’s more imperative than ever to focus on the health impact of what furnishings we buy."

CEO Phillip Raub’s helming of the company’s nimble strategy has greatly contributed to its success. "If a product isn’t resonating with the consumer, we sunset it and move on," he says. "And because we manufacture our goods domestically and on demand, we deliver in a matter of weeks, and this eliminates waste."

The cushions of Model No.’s low-slung, comfortable Platform lounge chair and ottoman are made with nontoxic, GOLS-certified latex and covered in cradle-to-cradle wool (which means the fabric can be recycled), making them plush, sustainable, and healthy.

In just a few years, Model No. has found itself on the fast track to growth, with expansion into the B2B space and now the introduction of its gorgeous Platform collection, which complies with the brand’s exacting environmental standards. "Our mission is to create furniture that is healthy for people and our planet," adds Northrup. "For us, this means timeless design and adhering to clean materials and manufacturing technologies."

The Platform series is offered in several configurations, fabric colors, leg options, and types of solid, FSC-certified wood.

Shop the Look
Model No. The Platform Sofa
The Model No. Platform Sofa & Ottoman combines minimalist design, expert craftsmanship, raw regenerative materials, and modern functionality to create a timeless, life-giving habitat for a healthier home.  At once modern and artisanal, our Platform Sofa and Ottoman’s sturdy FSC-certified...
Model No. The Coffee Table - Rectangle
Elevate the central living space of your home with the timeless minimalist design and farm-to-table craftsmanship of the Model No. Coffee Table.  At once cordial and casual, the Coffee Table offers understated clean style with deliberate lines and geometry that echo its minimalist...
Model No. The Platform Chair
Like the Platform Sofa, the Platform Chair combines minimalist design, farm-to-table craftsmanship, raw regenerative materials, and modern functionality to create a timeless, life-giving habitat for a healthier home.  At once modern and artisanal, the Platform Chair’s sturdy FSC-certified...

Head of product design Kevin Wildes adds: "Our approach is a continual balance of sustainability, quick delivery, and elegant, human-centered design." He points out that the new collection’s aesthetic is inspired by the clean, right angles and nature-inspired materials seen in the work of legendary modernists Charles and Ray Eames and the great Frank Lloyd Wright. The organic, cashmere-soft wool upholstery and GOLS-certified organic latex cushions, for instance—which are naturally flame retardant and therefore need no chemical treatment—are integral to the design philosophy.

Wildes reiterates the company’s ethically driven MO: "Many pieces on the market today can make you sick over time. We challenged ourselves to design and build the healthiest sofa on the planet. I think we are pretty close."


Learn more about Model No.’s environmentally responsible goods for the home at model-no.com.

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