“Demolish another building, it just gives us more to work with!”
John Stein is into demolitions, but not in the way one might think. The founder and president of California-based Kirei USA has a knack for finding the possibilities inherent in the unwanted.
This vision shows clearly in every Kirei product, including the newest line, Windfall. These engineered panels are produced in partnership with Windfall Lumber, which takes Douglas & Hemlock Fir from deconstructed buildings in the Pacific Northwest and brings the reclaimed wood to fresh, new life.
“It’s great to reuse demolition material that would otherwise take up space in the landfill,” says Mr. Stein. “Having it become beautiful wood panels is even better. This is old-growth wood that just can’t be found any more, and we get to bring it to designers.”
Windfall is manufactured in the United States using low-VOC adhesives. The reclaimed wood is milled into strips of differing width, which are then randomly stacked to form the panels and cut to size. Panels are available either solid or 3-ply with a NUAF/FSC-certified core. They may come unfinished, with a clear coat that shows off the natural grain, or stained and prefinished in Anthracite, Mocha, Ivory, and Leather colors. The result adds to any interior.
And as Windfall gives stylish new life to reclaimed wood, so the other Kirei lines bring new purpose to certain types of agricultural waste. Kirei Board, Kirei Coco Tiles, and Kirei Wheatboard use reclaimed agricultural fiber from plants commonly grown for food around the world.
After harvest, waste from sorghum (an edible grass), coconut, and wheat plants is usually thrown into landfills or burned. Now much of this unused material is removed from the waste stream, reducing landfill use and air pollution while giving rural farmers a new source of revenue. Rapidly renewable or FSC-certified wood are used as bonding strips, greatly reducing the need for newly harvested wood for building.
Manufacture can be more involved than with particle board. For example, with Kirei Board the sorghum stalks are compressed, washed, and woven into sheets. The latter are then stacked and heat-pressed with a formaldehyde-free adhesive to create blocks, which are cut to desired size.
Kirei offers a similar product made of Moso bamboo. The plantations from which this fiber is taken are generally reclaimed farmland, which helps to preserve uncut habitat. Panels are available in a wide variety of colorways, including the luscious looking new Chocolate, probably the favorite out of all the bamboo treatments that I’ve yet seen.
These four products are suitable for architectural millwork, cabinetry, flooring (though not in high traffic areas), wall displays or covering, furniture, and decorative objects – in short, any application where one would normally think of using wood.
To round out this versatility Kirei came out with their Canamo Hemp Panels. These are made with a no-added-formaldehyde resin and reclaimed hemp hurd fiber left over from fabric & seed oil manufacture: over 70% post-industrial recycled content. The panels are produced in 48”x96” size and are offered in a variety of thicknesses, all left unfinished so that designers may best tailor the product to individual need. According to Kirei, the hemp panels may be used for the purposes above. Ceiling panels are also available.
Collectively, the Kirei philosophy may yield several LEED credits for one’s project, which in itself is wonderful, but there’s much more to it that that.
The word kirei is a Japanese adjective signifying many meanings, including Clean, Pure, Beautiful, and Truthful. Under John Stein’s direction the company strives to embody its namesake as an ideal. His business aims to stimulate the economic activity of its source regions by providing new jobs at fair market wages. By using recycled products and efficient, sustainable practices, Kirei works to lessen humanity’s impact on natural resources while contributing to clean, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing indoor environments… with a eye to the latter quality.
“Green has to be beautiful,” says Mr. Stein.
“If you’re going to do green for green’s sake you’re going to have a very limited market – people who have health issues or people with a conscience. If you have beautiful materials that happen to be green, then really they’re open to everybody. I regard it almost as a gateway drug to other green activities.”
With the visual appeal of the Kirei product, perhaps we’ll see many new converts to the sustainable ethic. Let’s hope so.
Images courtesy of Kirei USA.