Fortum’s “self-rising” chair aims to promote the use of recycled plastics

The chair takes its name from runner Lasse Virén, who fell in the middle of the 10,000-metre final at the Olympics but managed to get back up and win gold.

Finnish energy company Fortum has developed a “self-rising” chair that is able to pick itself up without the assistance of robotics, symbolising the alternative attitude towards plastic that the company wishes to promote.

“Ever since the 1950s, plastic has been a key material in design,” says Fortum. “However, for the past decade, the industry has been misdirected to discuss reducing the use of plastic – when focus should in fact go to increasing its recycling rate.”

Inspired by their understanding of plastic’s potential as a sustainable material, the team at Fortum collaborated with creative agency TBWA/Helsinki and design consultancy Maker3D to create the Virén Chair.

The model takes its name from long-distance runner Lasse Virén, who fell in the middle of the 10,000-metre final in the Munich Olympics but managed to get back up and go on to win a gold medal and set a new world record.

The chair’s design was inspired by the sport itself, featuring an aerodynamic profile that serves as a nod to the motion of running. Upon closer inspection, the legs of the chair actually resemble a runner preparing to take off from the starting line. “Honouring the running legend Lasse Virén was very present at all stages of our design process,” explains TBWA\Helsinki’s Umberto Onza, lead designer of the chair.

In accordance with Fortum’s sustainably-led approach, the chair was made from a Fortum Circo recycled plastic compound reinforced with cellulose fibre, which “strengthens the material and reduces its carbon footprint”, according to Fortum. This material’s versatile nature allows for the construction of technically challenging products, such as the Virén Chair, the team explains.

Speaking on the company’s forward-thinking approach, Anniina Rasmus, brand sales manager at Fortum Recycling and Waste, says: “Plastic is in many ways a superior material that is hard to substitute.

“The consumption of plastic is growing globally all the time, so the discussion around plastics should instead focus on how to increase recycling – we should make sure that the value of the material is preserved by recycling the plastic and converting the waste into reusable material whenever possible.”

What do you think of the Virén Chair? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • mike dempsey March 18, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    Fortum’s sustainably-led approach is all well and good, along with reducing its carbon footprint. But, it has to be said, the chair itself is unbelievably ugly.

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