Start-up spotlight

WYE - Furniture design from their own material

The furniture start-up WYE has not only created a sustainable product with its own wood-based material Neolign, but has also thought through its entire production process holistically. We spoke with Franziskus Wozniak (Managing Director at WYE) and Ferdinand Krämer (Chief Designer at WYE) about their innovative product, the new collection and the topic of sustainability.

Aug 03 2020

With your innovative furniture design, you offer customers the opportunity to create their interior with modern and simple design pieces without sacrificing sustainability. What does this look like exactly? 

With WYE, we want to show how to initiate sustainable product cycles by developing new materials. With the conscious decision to use our own wood-based material Neolign in furniture design, we have the opportunity to penetrate into people's most intimate spaces.

In this way we create pleasure in design every day and at the same time anchor our sustainability concept in the consciousness of our customers. It is also important to us to reach as many conscious consumers as possible with fair prices. In the future, we will be able to achieve this more and more by using the industrial process.

We were able to confirm this theory directly with consumers when we entered the market at the trade fairs at the beginning of the year - fortunately shortly before the pandemic. In numerous and long discussions, we received an overwhelming response, which motivates us even now to go through the crisis.  

At the beginning of 2018 Franziskus Wozniak and Ferdinand Krämer started their start-up WYE © WYE

What exactly does Neolign consist of and what makes it so special? 

We are setting new ecological standards in the furniture industry by thinking in terms of holistic product cycles - from resources to production and service life to disposal. We achieve this with the material innovation Neolign with a wood content of over 83 percent - consisting of a combination of wood fibers, which are a waste product of the wood industry, polymers and special color pastes.  

The wood-based material can be 100 percent recycled for the production of new WYE furniture. In addition, Neolign is an extremely robust design material that has, for example, three times the abrasion resistance of the robust tropical wood Bangkirai and can therefore also be used on the balcony or terrace.  

The surface can be processed like ordinary wood, either with impregnation protection or it can be sanded down if damaged. Thanks to the colouring, the fresh colour comes out. We also use powder-coated steel (more energy-efficient than aluminium), which we also use at the end of its life cycle in the industrial production process. 

The dimensions of the seating area of the bench |chamfer|are designed for narrow corridors, small kitchens and narrow niches in city apartments. © WYE

And what makes your collection |chamfer| stand out? 

The |chamfer| collection is puristic and therefore timelessly designed. The purism is also expressed in the modularity of the collection. Intermediate pieces turn the stool into a bench; or a small console into a table. Combined with simple wing screws and screw-nut connections, the use of tools is reduced.  

The modularity as well as the easy assembly and disassembly meet the trend of micro-living. It also makes storage and shipping very efficient. The products are shipped in recycled packaging (cardboard boxes and stuffing paper) and without the use of plastic film or similar. 

Your design was awarded with the Design Award at the Blickfang HH and also with the Strascheg Award for innovative business ideas. What were the jury's reasons for awarding you? 

At the Design Award, the curators Leo Lübke, Besau-Maguerre and Gunda Siebke praised our design and our sustainable concept. This concept, coupled with the creation of materials, was also judged the most innovative business model at the Strascheg Award. We are currently nominated for the German Design Award 2021. 

You have also set up a feedback loop for your products. What can our readers imagine this to be? 

When developing our products, we pay attention to durability through high quality, timeless design and repair friendliness of the furniture. Nevertheless, statistics show that even high-quality design pieces are being used for shorter and shorter periods. We therefore offer our customers the option of taking the products back if necessary.  

Thanks to our return cycle, the neolign also has a high value for us as a resource after its useful life. Thanks to this unique selling point, our product can be reused over several decades. The customer receives a credit note for the return. This can then be redeemed for a new product at a stationary dealer or in our online shop. 

Whether for your own apartment, cafes or offices - the bench |chamfer| offers numerous application possibilities as a seat, cloakroom bench or storage space. © WYE

Sustainability is currently a major trend in the furniture industry. Do you think that this is only a temporary phenomenon or something that will be essential for manufacturers in the near future? 

In recent years, sustainable consumption has grown out of the pure "eco-corner" and has become a trend among both older and younger people. WYE frniture appeals to a target group for whom individual design and sustainability belong together.  

Current studies show that the demand for products designed according to the principle of "think before you think after" is increasing. This development can already be observed very well in the textile industry. 

​​A word at the end: What advice would you give to other startups in the furniture industry

  1. As Churchill once said: "Never, never, never give up!
  2. Do the right things with the right attitude! 
  3. Teamwork

The interview was conducted by Katja Ollech 

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