06/11/2024 • 3 min read

DesignLab 2024: Bill Carroll and Smokestack Unit 001

Circular design and sustainable innovation in furniture design

by Haworth, Inc.

The Haworth DesignLab, comprising talented designers and artists, is focused on creating surprising, emotive, and immersive experiences that challenge the norms of the design industry. This year's emphasis is on circular design, highlighting Haworth's dedication to a sustainable future by targeting reductions in carbon emissions and advocating for recycling materials.

Bill Carroll's Journey to Sustainable Innovation

For DesignLab 2024, Haworth selected Bill Carroll, a designer and artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. A 2023 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Furniture Design program, Carroll is driven by a desire to explore a wide breadth of materials and processes. His work is characterized by a sincere dedication to creating pieces with rich narrative potential, a passion ignited by his upbringing in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Carroll's innovative Dust Chair, a standout project from his time at RISD, caught the attention of Patricia Urquiola of Studio Urquiola, who recommended the designer for DesignLab 2024. This piece was inspired by his efforts to reconcile his Southern heritage with the modern design world. Drawing from the colorful quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and the communal spirit that goes into every pot of gumbo, Carroll created a chair from molded pigmented sawdust salvaged from his shared shop, Smokestack Studios. This project perfectly encapsulated the essence of creating value from local waste materials.

We’re Working to Make the World Better

Find out more about Haworth’s commitment to sustainability and a circular economy in our latest Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Embracing Randomness—The Art of Improvised Design

For his DesignLab project, Carroll created a bench titled Smokestack Unit 001. This innovative piece is made from cast sawdust pieces and consists of 6 parts—4 repeating components and 2 longer beam parts. The design allows for the assembly of these parts, much like a set of Legos, to create a functional furniture solution.

Carroll’s approach to this project explores systems that allow for both repeatability and randomness. The cast elements will always be unique due to the nature of the casting process, like creating 6 individual paintings that come together to form a cohesive whole. This method underscores the beauty of improvisation and the value of randomness in design.

I definitely have spent a lot of time just running my fingers through a trash can. In a way, my growth relies on the people around me in the shop to do their work, and then I kind of just sweep it all up—literally. It's coming from the bin in the wood shop, it's being cast, and then it’s living forever.

Bill Carroll


Nurturing Designers for the Future

Mentored by the renowned Studio Urquiola and the Haworth design studio, DesignLab participants develop concepts and solutions that aim to build stronger communities and drive industry evolution. This initiative goes beyond the creation of innovative products—it nurtures the next generation of designers by fostering a collaborative environment where knowledge and inspiration flow freely.

Showcasing Innovation at NeoCon 2024

DesignLab participants had the opportunity to showcase their designs at NeoCon 2024.  Bill Carroll’s work stood out for its innovative approach and commitment to sustainability. His project aligns seamlessly with Haworth’s core values of becoming a sustainable corporation and our work to make the world better.

Bill Carroll’s participation in Haworth DesignLab 2024 highlights the importance of nurturing new talent and promoting sustainable design practices. As we look to the future, initiatives like DesignLab are crucial in driving the industry's evolution and fostering a collaborative, innovative, and sustainable design community.

More on Haworth’s Design Lab

Discover the design and innovation of the Haworth DesignLab, each of the artists, and their work.


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