The Written-Off

a proposal for optimization of the sustainable practices of the local furniture factory Prostoria Ltd. through research of the applicability of waste materials

design research
service design
product design

As a designer, how can I connect different systems and people to create positive change?

How to optimize sustainable practices in this particular case study?

How to adapt a sustainable concept to existing branding and profit?

Guided by the idea of the designer as a "mediator" and the one who encourages and organizes the changes creating a more sustainable future, I decided to contact the Croatian local furniture factory Prostoria and, with their cooperation, try to optimize their sustainable practices. The direction I chose was to test further production potential of the waste materials generated in the production process. In short, the hypothesis I put forward before the implementation of the project was that not all waste materials generated in the factory need to be either recycled or wholly discarded. They can, however, continue their production journey in the form of new products.
Also, I assumed that I could design products that would not only prove the profitability of using waste materials as such but will also be able to continue the story of the brand itself and the values of the company. After it turned out that these materials, in the context of new products work, they can serve as a base and a springboard for the creation of a different strategy in which the Prostoria company could, in cooperation with the design students, continuously utilize waste materials as raw material for new, "designer" products. From this cooperation, many stakeholders, each in their way, could have specific interests and benefits.

textiles, pieces of wood taken from write-offs, and plastic straps that connect logs of wood in dryers
The project scenario consists of two parts - the methodology of my work in which I research specific practices in the factory and project products that serve as evidence of the production potential of waste materials (1.-5.) and a different strategy that includes continuous application of waste materials through the work of students (6.).

1. Research of the current state and practice regarding production and origin of waste materials in the Prostoria production facility

photo study of the factory facilities
The first phase of the project consisted of researching how the production facility operates. This involved studying the process of manufacturing products, from prototyping to producing finished product batches and examining each material that comprises the product. I also looked at the activities that occur in each part of the production, such as the product development department, textile and leather upholstery department, wood drying and processing department, metal processing department, polyurethane foam shaping department, and painting and coating department.

In this context, an essential question was to determine what waste material is produced and how frequently it is generated. It was crucial to investigate whether any waste material is produced that might not be immediately evident, such as the plastic straps used to tie pieces of wood during the drying process, which I found in a plastic recycling bin. Additionally, I observed and communicated with workers in all of the aforementioned departments to gain significant insight into their experiences and work practices.
2. Organizing the collected information into meaningful conclusions as design guidelines
The next phase of the project involved drawing conclusions based on the data I collected on two levels - the materials I envisioned using for product development and the functioning of the entire project as a collaboration between the factory, the university with young creatives, and the public, with the goal of promoting sustainable practices.

Regarding the materials used in product development, I concluded that it's necessary to consider whether certain materials are cost-effective to use in the products, taking into account whether the factory already uses or recycles them effectively. Through my on-site observation and communication with the workers in the various production departments, I identified the most optimal materials for the products to be made of are textiles, pieces of wood taken from write-offs, and plastic straps that connect logs of wood in dryers. These materials are readily available as waste in the production process and can be repurposed into new products with minimal environmental impact.   

analysis of the frequency of generation of waste materials and the adequacy of storage with the conclusion of potential materials to be used

In addition, I also considered the functioning of the project as a whole, which involves collaboration between different stakeholders. I analyzed the level of engagement and cooperation between the factory, university, young creatives, and the public and made recommendations for how to improve and enhance this collaboration to promote sustainable practices more effectively. Overall, the project aimed to not only develop sustainable furniture products but also create a platform for promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness among the wider public.

stakeholder map
3. Brainstorming and testing ideas for potential products

the brainstorming and prototyping process
The next step was, of course, to focus on concrete prototyping and experimenting with materials. It was important to find a use for material pieces that wouldn't be too "burdensome" - that could withstand the new function given to them without being originally intended for it during production.
4. creation of products based on aesthetic and brand principles used as proof of the potential of waste materials to create a product that continues to communicate company values
The final phase of the product development process involved the production finalization of the products. The main guiding principle was to create and brand the products based on aesthetic and branding principles similar to those used by Prostoria, showcasing the potential of waste materials while continuing to communicate the company's values through the product itself.

stands for storing
small office objects 

clothing rack

wall hung storage space

textile basket

5. Presenting the products to the public creating
the basis for future similar practices
The Exhibition of Croatian Design   21/22

photo from The Exhibition of Croatian Design 21/22 at Lauba – House for People and Art in Zagreb.

After the production of the products, the next step was to present them in a visible way - in the context of a platform that is visible to both the design and production community as well as the general public.

That’s why I exhibited this work at The Exhibition of Croatian Design 21/22 both online and live at Lauba – House for People and Art in Zagreb.

"The Exhibition of Croatian Design is the central and most important professional design event in Croatia, which gathers the highest quality design works created during a two-year period in all areas of design activity, including visual communication design and graphic design, industrial design, packaging design, spatial interventions and systems, interaction and electronic media, critical and conceptual design, fashion and clothing design, etc."

︎ The Exhibition of Croatian Design 21/22
The Written-off Nola Bokun

6. Development of sustainable practices based on the results of the previous steps of the project
After my project was published as a part of The Exhibition of Croatian Design, I have been contacted by dentsu Croatia, a prominent marketing agency, in regard to their volunteer project, One Day for Change. The agency is currently developing a website dedicated to sustainability and circular economy and is conducting interviews with individuals who have implemented sustainable projects to be featured on the site.

Dentsu Croatia recognized my project, "The Written-Off," as an exemplary model of upcycling and
sustainability and has expressed interest in conducting an interview with me regarding the project. This interview will be featured on the website to promote sustainable practices and increase awareness of circular economy. I was honored to have been chosen for this opportunity and hope that my project will inspire others to adopt sustainable practices in their own endeavors.

︎ From furniture factory waste to unique products for every home - interview with Nola Bokun, the project "The Written-Off"

The conclusion

In conclusion, my project explored not only the potential of upcycling waste materials in the factory but also demonstrated the possibility of collaboration between young creatives and the factory's leadership, as well as the interest of the public and other companies involved in sustainability, which is a crucial issue in our contemporary world.  

It is no longer just an optional concern, but rather an essential aspect that should be taken into consideration in all industries and areas of life.
I am excited to see what kind of other contacts and changes this project could potentially bring about.

2nd semester of Graduate Studies
Faculty of Architecture, School of Design
The University of Zagreb

mentors: Sanja Bencetić and Nataša Njegovanović

collaborators: Prostoria d.o.o. (communication with
Iva Šilić,  Anđela Vilić), Dujam Ivanišević

photography: Karlo Jelić