Circular Sofa Platform

Circular Sofa Platform – New Design Solutions for the Upholstery Sector is a PNRR research project that explores the theme of the circularity of upholstered furniture. 

Upholstered furniture is among the most problematic furniture products in terms of circularity. Often, sofas and armchairs are made from very different materials that are difficult to recycle, as well as being assembled in a non-reversible manner. In addition, chains specializing in their disposal are lacking.

In 2017, the impact of waste from the furniture sector was 10.78 million tons, of which about 2.5 consisted of mattresses and upholstered furniture (source: European Environmental Bureau). In addition, according to EUROPUR – European association of flexible polyurethane foam blocks manufacturers – upholstered furniture in Europe is disposed of in the generic municipal solid waste chain and therefore considered as “bulky” waste.

The necessary circular renovation of upholstered furniture involves the implementation of new solutions to reduce its impact by implementing a systemic and circular design approach that involves all the constituent elements of upholstered furniture and their production and assembly processes, but also the distribution and post-consumer stages.

Circular Sofa Platform is a research project funded by MUR with PNRR funds within the Made in Italy Circular and Sustainable Extended Partnership (MICS), which focuses on developing a new upholstered furniture construction paradigm based on circularity. Circular Sofa Platform aims to design, experiment and prototype new circular upholstered furniture models, working on: 

  • the parametric and generative design of alternative parts and components to reduce or eliminate the consumption of materials that are difficult to recycle;
  • the definition of a modular system to facilitate the assembly and disassembly of all components;
  • the selection and use of circular materials and raw materials for different parts and components;
  • the integration of B2B and B2C services concerning the circularity of upholstered furniture such as repair, recycling, and remanufacturing.

The aim of the project is to develop innovative solutions at the product-service and process system level that aim to extend the useful life of upholstered furniture, reducing the energy footprint of the final product and, at the same time, enhancing and implementing the heritage of industrial and craftsmanship knowledge present in the various Italian manufacturing districts.

The four universities developing the Circular Sofa Platform project aim to create Proof-of-Concept (PoC) related to parts, structures and components of a circular sofa by experimenting with:

  • upholstery alternatives to polyurethane foam and made from recyclable and/or biobased materials (Politecnico di Milano);
  • structures redesigned according to principles of modularity and extensibility, to facilitate assembly and disassembly of the finished product (University of Bologna);
  • the use of natural textile fibers for upholstery, padding and other connective structural elements, enhancing new local supply chains such as hemp (Politecnico di Torino);
  • the use of regenerated leathers that employ dyeing processes with low environmental impact (University of Florence).

The project will involve businesses, business associations and other stakeholders, both during the research and preliminary analysis phases and during the co-design and prototyping phases.



Photo credits: Furkan Güzlek (Pexels)
Cover Photo: The Humantra (Pexels)


2023 - 2025


Polifactory – Politecnico di Milano


Politecnico di Torino, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Università degli Studi di Firenze

Parole Chiave

Circular Economy

Product-Service System Design