This Eco-Friendly Furniture Brand Makes Stylish Velvet Sofas From Recycled Plastic Bottles … from Maxim Chris Wilson

(Sabai Design)

A sustainable sofa brand is blending recycled materials with boho-chic styling to cozy up to the growing eco-friendly furniture market. Brooklyn-based Sabai Design specializes in sofas upholstered in rich recycled velvets and upcycled poly and hemp in a veritable rainbow of colors—from moss, chocolate and indigo to poppier hues like amber, mustard and seafoam. 

Sabai—a brand that’s aimed at young urbanites seeking to balance stylish design with eco-conscious values—makes modular sofas with Sustainable Forestry Initiative-approved plywood frames and high-resiliency foam shipped in 100 percent recycled packaging via FedEx Ground. The company also boasts a Repair Don’t Replace program to extend the lifespan of sofas with wear-and-tear along with a buyback program that allows customers to trade-in sofas or buy them secondhand.

Sabai’s Elevate collection of plush sofas and sectionals is the brand’s top-of-the-line range, starting at $2,995, but they also offer styles at lower prices, starting at $1,500 for the Essential sofa. While the comfy, low-profile Elevate line is described by Sabai as having a “modern farmhouse” aesthetic, it can easily channel a more retro-cool vibe, particularly when wrapped in a lively velvet colorway. 

(Sabai Design)

In 2019, Phantila Phataraprasit co-founded Sabai—which roughly translates to “relaxed” in Thai—in a bid to imbue the direct-to-consumer furniture industry with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. Sofas are Sabai’s core product, but the online retailer has branched out into pillows, chairs, tables and rugs as it raised its profile with flattering coverage in Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, and House Beautiful. 

According to a recent study by Credence Research, the global eco-friendly furniture market is experiencing an annual growth of more than 6 percent per year, and is projected to hit $1.64 billion by 2032. Sabai is targeting that steadily-rising demand by offering sofa styles for a variety of tastes. 

“We want people to express themselves through color and design, but we also want to create pieces that are timeless, flexible and kind of allude to different aesthetics without being too trendy,” says Phataraprasit. “We never want to be too trendy because that contributes to people turning things over and getting sick of things.”

(Sabai Design)

“We want to make as big of an impact as possible and need to be able to speak to as many people as possible and help them opt for the sustainable product, whether you’re someone who wants a woven natural fabric or velvet or mid-century design or a slipcover design that’s a little bit more traditional. We don’t want to limit our ability to offer sustainable products to people with different tastes. And so the different collections kind of speak to that.”

Phataraprasit adds that while most of Sabai’s recycled manufacturing materials are sourced near their manufacturing partners in North Carolina and Tennessee, the AAPI-owned company’s impressively soft and colorful velvet is made from recycled plastic bottles from China.

(Sabai Design)

“The velvet fabric does come from China—we work with a partner out there that essentially collects plastic bottles,” she adds. “And basically these bottles get collected, they’re cleaned, and shredded into really small pieces and flakes, and those flakes are melted down and extruded into yarn. And so you can create fabric essentially from recycled plastic bottles.”

That kind of ecological innovation is earning accolades across the sustainable furniture space. Tim Struby, founder and CEO of online furniture shopping service toTree, lauded Sabai’s commitment to making stylish furnishings that live up to their eco-focused billing. 

“In a furniture space riddled with greenwashing, Sabai stands out as one of the few companies that puts their money where their mouth is,” Struby says. “Their commitment to sustainability is unparalleled. And the fact that their furniture is both stylish and comfortable makes them the go-to for anyone who seriously cares about the environment. It’s also why toTree selected them as one of the first brands we offered.”

To see Sabai’s full collection of sustainable sofas and furnishings, tap here.

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