Upcycled Chair
Furniture Design


When Bloomberg decided to replace their stationery and collateral with a new look, the company’s design team recognized an opportunity for sustainable design. Their mission to transform old business cards into functional and aesthetic objects brought them to MIO’s CultureLab. Working closely with Bloomberg’s design team, CultureLab developed a proposal to reengineer old business cards into an example of socially minded design for their new headquarters. CultureLab engaged vendors to meet the technical requirements necessary to create a seat from waste paper. The result is the Up-Cycled Chair: a stool sturdy enough to survive office use and elegant enough to contribute to Bloomberg’s dynamic environment. The design is a clear and compelling representation of corporate responsibility and creative ingenuity.

The paper is the message.


CultureLab’s creative team explored a variety of useful, everyday office designs that could communicate material origin and purpose. The challenge of a chair out of paper was selected because it provided an element of surprise and discovery in an experience with a sustainable message. The function of the chair beyond providing seating for informal meetings was to be the catalyst for a teachable moment for those working at Bloomberg bureaus worldwide. CultureLab worked with manufacturers of the MIO collection to create a limited run of seats made entirely out of Bloomberg’s waste. The process was documented with photography that was screened in Bloomberg offices via televisions throughout their networked environment.


The design of the chair was a close collaboration with Bloomberg’s creative branding team and the technical staff at various manufacturing facilities. Aesthetically the chair needed to be synchronized with Bloomberg’s new image and colors. Functionally the chair needed to be resilient enough for office use and fit the manufacturing constraints set by the vendors. After several design iterations and prototypes Culturelab delivered a chair with a paper seat and stainless steel frame that provided a visually compelling and comfortable experience for Bloomberg and employees and that could be stacked and serviced. To ensure the product would endure CultureLab submitted the chair to a BIFMA equivalent durability test, which the paper chair passed and exceeded.

  • Designed to stack for storage and shipping
  • Tag with information about the materials origin
  • Social seating for dynamic office environment

Design and Story

Having extensive manufacturing knowledge and a vast network of local manufacturers enabled CultureLab to test, prototype and iterate quickly. The entire manufacturing process and the materials were tracked, documented and shared with the Bloomberg community via their office network. The aesthetic choices of the Up-Cycled Chair were driven by Bloomberg’s new graphic identity, the challenges of making the product durable in an office environment and the manufacturing processes employed to mold paper seats. The result is a furniture product in sync with Bloomberg’s branding strategy and with a strong social and environmental message. Each Up-Cycled Stool has an origin tag to share its story with users that reads: “This stool was created with recycled business cards contributed by employees all over the world.”


CultureLab was able to achieve the technical requirements necessary to create a durable seat from waste paper by working together with vendors. During the development process, factories that traditionally make packaging products out of molded pulp were temporarily adapted to make furniture. The final design can be found in Bloomberg bureaus worldwide. The seat of the Up-cycled Chair was molded out of waste paper in a prototype molding machine and oven dried on specially designed frames to prevent dimensional warping. The seats where finished with coats of beeswax to make them water repellent and more durable. The hardware for the seats was laser-cut, welded and powder-coated. The hardware design provided a graphic accent on the seat pan that visually tied it to Bloomberg’s new brand look. The size, shape and construction of the hardware also served as an innovative and effective method of securing paper, a material that would traditionally not accept most traditional fasteners. The stainless steel legs were bent and polished by a railway component manufacturer. The design of the frames enabled stacking the chairs and provided additional structure to the seat pan. The components were tested, assembled and packaged at MIO and shipped to Bloomberg bureaus worldwide.

Good design and responsibility fosters honesty and excellence.
  • Seat pans drying in the oven with other molded pulp packaging
  • Collateral turned into pulp
  • Collateral collected from bureaus worldwide for recycling
  • Preliminary full scale foam models
  • Wooden tool for limited run production
  • Testing, assembly and packaging


Financial Media


Product Design – Visual Design – Sourcing and Manufacturing