When buying furniture, it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest option available. But investing in items that will last will leave a lighter impact on the planet and serve you for years to come.  We’re lucky in Australia to have some of the most beautiful, regenerative timbers and materials available to us, and there are plenty of designers and makers celebrating these resources — you just have to know where to find them.  We’ve wrapped up 11 brands making innovative and environmentally friendly furniture for your home. 

1. Upparel 

Upparel Flip Up Couch

Say hello to the world’s first completely circular flip-out couch for kids — Flip Up. Made completely from upcycled textiles and fibres in Melbourne, this couch proves that good things come in small packages. The inner cushioning is all upcycled, while the fabric exterior is made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s washable and water resistant and has been designed and ethically made right here in Australia. In true Upparel style, once you’re done with the couch, they’ll take it back and recycle it again for free to keep it out of landfill. We just wish there was an adult-sized one.

2. Koala

Koala Cork Couch

You’ve probably heard of Koala for their super comfy and sustainable mattresses, but did you know they make furniture too? Their newest (and most innovative) creation is the cork sofa. Using biodegradable and renewable cork, CertiPUR-US certified foam and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved timber, these couches are completely vegan and formaldehyde-free. Koala is already a member of 1% For The Planet, but they’ve also teamed up with WWF to ensure that for every Koala couch purchased, an Australian marine turtle is adopted and their habitat is protected.

3. Plyroom

With an ethos that’s all about slowing down and mindfully curating our homes, Elise Heslop founded Plyroom to make beautiful furniture from natural materials that will last. Plyroom collaborates with designers in Italy and manufactures in family-owned factories in northern Italy, as well as Melbourne and Sydney using FSC and PEFC certified, sustainably sourced Tasmanian oak, birch and beech timbers. All Plyroom pieces are coated with an eco-friendly plant-based wax or water-based finish for both durability and aesthetic purposes. They are currently transitioning all their packaging to be biodegradable and recycled, and they’re working towards B Corp certification. Oh and also, the furniture is stunning. 

4. Pop Up Desks 

Pop Up desks

Originally an exhibition display company, COVID-19 forced Displaywise to get creative and quickly rebrand to launch Pop Up Desks. Their minimal, easy to pop up and down desks are perfect for the work-from-home life, and the kids’ range is equally gorgeous. Pop Up Desks manufactures locally in Sydney using MDF pieces that are cut to minimise waste, before being slotted together perfectly. You might have seen them online at the Finders Keepers website with their range of desks, shelves, kids’ tables and mini picnic tables. 

5. Koskela 

Koskela Showroom

Koskela is the first furniture company in Australia to be a Certified B Corporation for their ethical manufacturing process, sustainable practices and positive social impact program. For 20 years, Koskela has been making quality, made-to-order furniture for businesses, schools and homes alike using local factories to minimise transport emissions and ensure fair wages and working conditions are met. They’re a member of Supply Nation and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses whenever possible through their social impact programs and design collaborations. They’ve also fostered a decade-long relationship with Rainforest Rescue to save the Daintree and had many of their furniture certified by GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia). There’s a lot to love about Koskela that goes beyond their beautiful furniture and homewares. 

6. Yard Furniture

Yard Furniture

Owned and operated by first-generation Australian Peter McManus, Yard Furniture is a Melbourne-based company making bespoke furniture completely from recycled timbers. All of their timber is sourced locally in Victoria and finished with natural, eco-friendly waxes to preserve all the unique features of each piece. By using reclaimed Australian hardwoods from commercial and residential sites, Yard Furniture are reducing the need for logging and chemically produced materials while diverting materials from landfill.

7. Jardan

As a certified NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard) carbon neutral company, sustainability is at the centre of everything for Jardan. Every 90 days, they measure, review and report on their minimisation of raw materials, waste and energy, their recycling efforts, re-upholstery services and end of life services. They care about every stage of their products’ lifecycles, from design and construction, to usage and recycling after use. They’ve got a range of certifications listed on their website, including FSC and PEFC sustainably sourced timbers, GECA certified foams, GOTS certified linen and Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 certified wool. Given all these efforts, their furniture doesn’t come cheap, but each piece is made to last so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. 

8. Retro Print Revival

Retro Print Revival
Photo by Mike Baker

If you love vintage and mid-century design, then you’re going to love Retro Print Revival. Founded by Tamara Watts in 2009, Retro Print Revival makes gorgeous floor lamps, vases and planters using vintage prints and locally sourced timbers. Each custom piece is made-to-order in Melbourne to minimise waste and excess material consumption. Tamara also launched a retro face masks range in 2020 using her spare vintage fabrics — definitely worth a look if you want to match your mask with your décor. 

9. The Natural Bedding Company

Natural Bedding Company

Based in Sydney, The Natural Bedding Company is a family business making beautiful bedroom furniture and mattresses using sustainably sourced materials and Tasmanian oak. Since 1984, each piece has been handcrafted in Sydney and designed to last a lifetime. All the timber used in their furniture is certified by FSC, PEFC, AFS, CSAW, FWPA and FTT. That’s a lot of letters but, essentially, they don’t use a timber unless they know it’s been sustainably managed and sourced under the government’s ecoSelect program. They’re also super transparent about all their materials and processes so you can read all about them on their website

10. Agostino and Brown

This Adelaide furniture company makes everything to order with sustainability in mind every step of the way. They personally construct each piece one at a time, to ensure you get the best possible quality. The team at Agostino and Brown want their pieces to be passed down through generations, so they create heirloom items that are designed to endure both wear and tear, as well as aesthetic tastes. They do a lot of commercial work, but they do bespoke items too, with a small range of ‘in stock’ pieces on their website. 

11. Five Mile Radius 

Using construction waste, Five Mile Radius produce their beautiful range of terrazzo tables and use the profits to fuel their educational events and research. Founded in 2016 in Brisbane, they’re a design studio and education platform all about building with locally sourced, ethical materials. They use both recycled and natural materials in their closed-loop production process and make everything on-site at their Brisbane studio. Each table is made-to-order with a unique terrazzo pattern, so you’ll never find an identical one to yours. 

Bonus: Breeze Furniture Rental Service

Breeze Furniture Rental

The fashion rental industry has taken off in the last couple of years, so it was only a matter of time before the furniture industry followed suit. Enter Breeze, the brainchild of friends TJ Hoon and Peter Kijak based in Melbourne and the first furniture subscription service in Australia. The duo was also fuelled by the 24 kilograms of wooden furniture being sent to landfill each year from Australian households. You read that right, we’re discarding furniture at crazy, unsustainable rates. Breeze has been designed to combat this issue and help renters move easily without the struggles of flatpacks. The service includes the option to rent, swap and return items, or eventually buy pieces for $1 after two years of renting. You can rent casually or become a member, depending on your budget and needs. By providing a rental platform, Breeze is giving furniture items multiple lives and reducing the amount of furniture going to landfill. Definitely an alternative worth checking out.