08 April 2015

Cool & Easy

Written by Published in Design
Cool & Easy ©Images © Colombe Clier – VIA 2015

Here’s a design challenge: how can our furniture contribute to energy saving at home and in the office? With their newly-launched Zero Energy range, Raphaël Ménard and Jean-Sébastien Lagrange have not only made it possible, but irresistibly and beautifully simple

It’s official: furniture can now control room temperature – and save energy by doing so. The climate table – a first release of the Zero Energy Furniture range – can facilitate almost 60% of an office’s heating requirements and economise up to 30% of its air-conditioning needs.

The climate table comprises the first stage in the Z.E.F (Zero Energy Furniture) programme. This collaborative research project between Next Gen prize-winner engineer Raphaël Ménard and Audi Talents Awards winner designer Jean-Sébastien Lagrange, aims to deliver light and flexible objects and devices that are appealing and understandable by the user in order to eoncourage more effective home energy performance. It is the fruit of an exchange halfway between design and engineering, combining climatic comfort and a quest for rational and elegant aesthetic appeal.

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But, where’s the secret? This furniture acts like a thermal sponge: it absorbs excess heat (above 22 degrees), acting as air-conditioning, then it radiates the accumulated heat back into the room when needed. Materials with phase change materials (PCM) between its solid wood surface and its anodised aluminium underside.

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The PCMs store latent heat when the inside temperature starts to become excessive. PCM wax has a melting-point of 22°C (the transitional temperature between ‘solid’ and ‘liquid’) and it begins to absorb heat from the ambient air by limiting overheating of the indoor climate. PCMs also store a large quantity of thermal energy within a small volume.

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The corrugated form of the aluminium (a very good thermal conductor) encourages thermal exchange between the room and the PCMs situated within the table top. The folds comprising this light aluminium sheet also provide excellent structural rigidity and considerable resistance. The table top can thus have a very large span, a sizeable width between the bearing points.

The Zero Energy Furniture climate table received a VIA 2015 project grant, and it will be presented during the forthcoming Milan Furniture Fair on VIA’s stand as part of the France Design exhibition at the Design Center.

Find out more at The Zef Programme

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