Making designs of obsessive quality includes a thoughtful approach to sustainability. At Hem, we work hard to reduce our environmental impact in every aspect of our work, recognising how our decision-making, on both the large and the small issues, has consequences. As a European design brand serving a global customer, we adhere to both local and international protocols, alongside which we have set out our own key objectives, which we explain here:
Enduring and Durable
It has always been Hem’s guiding principle to design and make furniture that endures. You will often hear us repeat the motto; ‘designing and making pieces for the auction houses of tomorrow’. In the simplest of terms; we want our objects to last, to transcend fashions, to remain desirable for generations, and in doing so they will remain in use and outside of the waste stream.
We achieve durability through a rigorous and lengthy design process and by consistently and stubbornly choosing high-quality materials and manufacturing. It is not too much to say that we have a very exacting design and research process of which we are very proud. This translates to an extremely low ‘reject rate’ during our manufacturing processes and an extremely low ‘claim rate’ with our customers, meaning there is little waste generated during making and our objects rarely break or are returned. We also achieve longevity by designing systems of furniture that can grow with their owner, rather than be replaced. Did you know that we keep spare parts for our key designs in stock for years? Meaning that your Hem products can often be repaired and their usable life extended.
Most of our collection is certified to EU and American contract requirements and durability protocols, the highest standards for furniture manufacturing. You can access a full list of all the certifications we adhere to here:
Although we hope all of our objects remain in use for generations, they will inevitably find themselves back in the circular economy at some point, so we address the end life of an object at the beginning of the design process. Currently, we use recyclable materials whenever possible and are working towards introducing more sustainable alternatives into our material palette. We have long refrained from using virgin plastics unless necessary in our designs and we use single materials where we can, meaning objects can be easily broken down for recycling.
A thorough understanding of the materials we use is a key part of the Hem design process. You might have noticed that many of our products are singular in their materiality, thereby celebrating and revealing that material in the most direct way we can. We gather together all data about our materials and their sourcing for our customers to review; each Hem product is issued with an Ecology sheet. See an example here:
We ensure all our materials are ethically grown, harvested, sourced, or made. We only use low-emitting materials and make sure that each is compliant with international standards. The majority of our wooden objects are made with FSC or PEFC timber and we can provide alternative documentation in the instances where they are not. Lastly, our dedication to responsible material usage is across the board; all of Hem’s packaging is made from 100% recycled cardboard and we increasingly find utility in the material offcuts produced during our manufacturing, reducing waste wherever we can.
Making furniture requires a lot of energy. We seek to minimize the energy we use wherever we can. We do this in a number of ways: Firstly, by partnering with responsible factories and makers - the majority of our collection is produced in Europe and as such our products strictly adhere to EU environmental standards and industry certifications, these are some of the most robust in the world. And when our products are made outside of the EU, we are just as stringent about good practice and efficient energy use. We even consider energy use whilst designing our products; minimizing the amount of processes needed and always choosing energy-efficient methods of making.
Delivery & Supply Chain
Hem serves an international customer, with most of our sales being made online. Therefore, our delivery and supply chain are a pivotal part of our business. We endeavor to control and reduce the distance our products travel from multiple warehouses on different continents and insist our trucks and containers are always at least 90% full before they travel. We also limit unnecessary freight between production facilities by building this into our designs from the beginning, always producing a product at a single factory or workshop if we can. Doing so substantially reduces the hidden carbon footprint of the production process.