UPM's New 'Green' Building Material Creates Buzz at Design Miami
UPM ProFi, an innovative, environmentally appealing wood/plastic composite, stood the test of hundreds of stiletto heels and dozens of active children at the opening of Design Miami yesterday. The new product, primarily used as decking, has been gaining popularity in Europe as an attractive, "green" building material, and it is now being introduced to North America at the Miami show.
"We couldn't have planned a tougher test," said Edward Robinson, Sales and Marketing Director for UPM ProFi. "The UPM ProFi surface was unmarked by the high volume of traffic at Design Miami. Even when beverages were spilled, no one slipped on the high-friction surface of UPM ProFi."
Guests at Design Miami mingled in an artfully designed pavilion called "The Space of Silence", built entirely from UPM ProFi. The new product is manufactured from surplus materials, primarily paper and plastic, left over from the production of self-adhesive label stock by UPM Raflatac, the Label Division of UPM. The process residue is sent to UPM ProFi's production facility where it is recycled and moulded into patio decking and corner protector profiles.
The pavilion is the result of a unique partnership of global forest industry leader UPM, renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and Finnish design company Artek. A trailblazer in applying ecological thinking to architectural design, Ban was inspired by UPM ProFi and sketched an exhibition space for Artek that would be built from the new wood/plastic composite. The pavilion was first presented by Artek and UPM in April at Salone Internationale del Mobile in Milan, Italy, then was reassembled for display in Helsinki, Finland. The first appearance of the pavilion in North America is at Design Miami.
Markku Koivisto, Director, UPM Corporate Venturing, encouraged people to test the product. "Tonight, I would like you to enjoy the pavilion and explore UPM ProFi's durability and design beauty. Stomp on it, touch the walls and feel it," he said.
Mr. Koivisto was pleased with the public's response: "It was UPM's commitment to the environment and sustainability that led to the development of UPM ProFi," he explained. "We are continuously researching new ways of reducing waste at all stages in the lifecycle of our products. During the production process, we strive to ensure that nothing is wasted. Tonight, it feels like our message is getting a positive response from design aficionados."
The pavilion is decorated with Artek's 2nd Cycle furnishings collection that is brought to life with UPM Raflatac RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. The RFID tags are embedded into Artek's furniture and can be read or uploaded via mobile phone, revealing the history of the item.
"UPM ProFi is a great, recycled material with innovative properties and future potential," said Mr. Robinson. "We have just launched the first product, decking, made from this wood/plastic composite. Now it is up to us to develop other products and applications for UPM ProFi."
Design Miami is open to the public December 7-9 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
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