Hand-in-hand for improved sustainability
Here at Klöber we’re team players – both amongst colleagues or in terms of the way we interact with our partners and suppliers. We’re convinced it’s the best way to create ideas and products. In our new series we’ll introduce you to a few of our partners. Let’s start with our Danish fabric supplier, Gabriel.
Booom, booom, WOOOM: our WOOOM shell chair has really raised a storm this year.
Our innovative product has been popular thanks to its gadgets and design – as well as being made from sustainable materials. The upholstery fabric, which consists of 98 per cent recycled polyester, comes from our supplier Gabriel, with whom we have a long-standing business relationship over many years. Many things unite the two companies: a premium design benchmark, outstanding quality, and innovative technologies for durable, timeless products.
Kurt Nedergaard is head of the Corporate Social Responsibility & Quality division. He’s worked at Gabriel for 31 years (long employment terms are another factor common to both Gabriel and Klöber!) and he answered my questions:
In short: Who is Gabriel, what does the company stand for? (Number of employees, foundation)
Gabriel develops, manufactures and sells upholstery fabrics, components, upholstered surfaces and related products and services to the furniture industry worldwide offering the largest selection of eco-labelled upholstery fabrics on the market. The company has more than 1,000 employees around the globe and a network of showrooms, production facilities and sales offices on three continents. With a history that dates back more than 160 years, Gabriel is a company with deep roots, strong values and a well-established commitment to sustainability.
Contact person: Name, function (explain if necessary), since when with Gabriel?
Kurt Nedergaard, Director of CSR & Quality, has been with Gabriel for 31 years (since 1988).
How and when did Gabriel come up with the idea of producing textiles/fabric from PET bottles that could no longer be used?
In the mid-nineties, Gabriel launched the fabric Comfort which was the first Gabriel design with recycled PET. Since then, Comfort has been updated and is now called Comfort+. In the years that followed, and particularly during the last five years, the focus on circular economy and the re-use of plastic has characterised Gabriel’s development.
How long did it take until the very first usable prototype material was ready?
The initial development of products made of recycled PET took between 1-3 years. Today, we are familiar with the technology, and the development of recycled PET products is as fast as that of products made of new material.
How many bottles do you need for one square meter of Cura?
It takes approximately 7 two-litre PET bottles to produce one square-metre of Cura.
Where do the PET bottles come from? From all over Europe?
Geographically, it does not matter where the PET bottles come from as long as they meet Gabriel’s strict requirements. Our goal is to manufacture sustainable, high-quality fabrics which comply with STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and EU Ecolabel and consequently, the bottles used for Gabriel fabrics have to meet stringent requirements.
How many (tons of) PET bottles do you process per year?
The amount of PET bottles processed at Gabriel has increased continuously throughout the last five years, and in the last business year, Gabriel has processed 99 tons of PET bottles. To put this into perspective, the number of bottles corresponds to 33 hectares or 46 soccer fields of fabrics made of PET bottles.
Please briefly describe the route from the PET bottle to the finished textile.
Plastic bottles that otherwise would have ended up in landfill are collected, cleaned and shredded into plastic flakes. The plastic flakes are converted into small pellets that are melted down, extruded and spun into polyester yarn. The recycled polyester yarn is dyed and finally woven into fabrics.
How does the colour get into the fabric?
To manufacture uncoloured, high-quality yarns that dye well, Gabriel only uses uncoloured PET bottles. Either the uncoloured yarn is dyed before it is made into fabric (yarn-dyeing), or the yarns are woven into fabric and then dyed (piece-dyeing).
How did the cooperation with Klöber come about?
Klöber has enjoyed a long partnership with Gabriel. I can look back over the last 10 years, maybe Mr Eisenhöfer knows exactly how long we have been cooperating. The two companies operated by the same principles right from the word go – a benchmark for good design, outstanding quality paired with innovative technology, and robust, timeless products. Craftsmanship is in our genes, and thanks to the latest technology we can apply these skills to 21st century production. Looking at the Klöber portfolio, we’ve made a conscious decision to focus on a “new sustainability” product, and introducing this alongside established materials such as pure new wool or technical fabrics allows us to create stand-out items with added value for the user. It wasn’t difficult to convince the committee working on behalf of Peter Eisenhöfer, who helped us develop this idea, and we’re delighted to have received a lot of positive feedback. We’ve noticed a significant increase in demand for new materials like this from larger companies in particular, and we are certain that CURA’s unique appearance not only makes a lasting impression in visual terms but also guarantees a good long-term investment that benefits users. CURA features a distinctive understated melange effect that’s perfect for more than just classic sitting in the office. CURA’s homely texture makes it ideal for a wide range of applications, for example attractive lounge furniture and seating groups for the central zone.
Last question: What does a Gabriel employee drink his water from?
Gabriel is a global organisation with more than 1,000 employees on three continents. In locations where the water-quality is good, employees drink tap water. This is for example the case at our head office in Aalborg, Denmark. In other countries, water is tapped from PET-canisters.