PROWL Urges Designers to Consider the Afterlife of Products 

A response to fast furniture, the studio’s hemp-based Peel chair is biodegradable and compostable.

Lauryn Menard and Baillie Mishler’s plans for a practice centered on regenerative design began when they met ten years ago working for the same San Francisco design studio. “We wanted to do more for the planet,” recalls Menard. In 2021 they founded their studio PROWL with a mission to set new standards for the design industry. “Instead of asking how we can do ‘less bad,’ we ask how we can do ‘the most good,’ ” says Mishler. “We begin with the end—to fully understand what the next life of each product, material, or space we design could become.” 

“Instead of asking how we can do ‘less bad,’ we ask how we can do ‘the most good’ ”

Baillie Mishler, cofounder and design director, PROWL Studio

That ethos was on full display during NeoCon in Metropolis’s Sustainability Lab at The Mart, where visitors got to see PROWL’s newest furniture concept, the Peel chair. The biodegradable, compostable, hemp-based stacking chair was featured among hemp-based packaging, hemp bio-leather curtains developed by material research studio Veratate, and a hemp brick “stage.” 

“Inspired by hemp stock and how different parts of the plant are removed to be harvested for reuse, Peel marries utility with responsibility,” says Menard. “It serves its purpose, but only for as long as it needs to.” To emphasize the product’s end of life, the installation displayed parts of the chair sinking into soil, as if returning to the earth. 

With Peel, Menard and Mishler say they hope to counter the fast-furniture trend from within, noting that low-quality, toxic materials and the pressure to keep pace with the latest styles lead to more than 12 million tons of furniture waste in the United States each year. “Like all living things, we must also expect the ‘death’ of our products when they no longer serve us or we no longer value them,” Mishler says. “We don’t have time to design in any other way. This is a moment for critical design.” 

Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: [email protected]

  • No tags selected