Milan Design Week: New Ways to Take a Seat

Entering Prowl’s space at the Alcova exhibition, visitors will encounter a strange sight: a dun-colored plastic stacking chair disassembled, in dirt.

It is an unconventional way to introduce a new product, and that is the point. The presentation will spotlight the new Peel chair at the end of its life, as legs, seat and cushion — all made from compostable and biodegradable materials — begin to return to the earth.

“Someone might say, ‘Oh, that’s not the sexy part,’” said Lauryn Menard, a founder of the Oakland, Calif., design studio. “But we actually think it is the sexy part.”

In keeping with their ethos, “to begin with the end,” Ms. Menard and her co-founder, Baillie Mishler, conceived the chair with the idea of its being on its last legs. Their work in furniture and fashion taught them that — no matter how beautiful or well-designed a piece — “people’s tastes change constantly, people move constantly,” Ms. Menard said, so they aimed to “create something that only needs to last as long as we want it to.”

They partnered with M4 Factory, which specializes in regenerative plastic goods, in a process that involves mixing bast fiber — a hemp byproduct — with a biopolymer to create the injection-molded chair. It is completed with a hemp foam cushion that can be composted in the owner’s backyard.

In Prowl’s exhibition space, set, aptly, in a revivified century-old slaughterhouse, two (fully assembled) Peel chairs will sit atop a hemp-block platform. On the wall will hang a fourth Peel chair in its infancy, flat-packed in paper pulp packaging.

The chair is not currently available for purchase, but Prowl is pitching it for licensing. For now, Ms. Mishler said, they hope it helps people get “more comfortable with recognizing that consumption has an end, and this is what it looks like.” On view from Monday through April 23 at Viale Molise 62; — MEGAN McCREA