Noho chairs are built using nylon materials made from recycled fishing nets. Courtesy Noho PBC.

New Zealand furniture firm settles in Boulder

BOULDER — Comfort, environmental sustainability and fishing nets are three topics that don’t often get grouped together. But Richard Shirtcliffe is building a new furniture company on those very pillars.

Noho PBC, which Shirtcliffe founded, is making chairs for the home from recycled — or “upcycled” — fishing nets.

The Boulder-based, New Zealand-born company arose from Shirtcliffe’s “passion for finding a way to commercially tackle waste plastics,” he told BizWest.

The inspiration for Noho, which roughly translates to “sit, stay, dwell and live” in the Maori language spoken by the indigenous Maori people of Shirtcliffe’s native New Zealand, came in part from a trip Shirtcliffe and his family took to Indonesia.

“We were all learning to surf,” he said. “It was magical — except for all of the plastic in the ocean washing around everywhere. It really troubled me that my kids thought that was normal.”

Shirtcliffe, looking for ways to make a dent in the plastics problem, stumbled across manufacturers of a material called Econyl. Developed by Italian firm Aquafil, Econyl is a nylon substance made from the repolymerization of commercial fishing nets.

While the Noho products are designed to last a lifetime, they can be recycled and turned back into usable nylon if a customer decides to move on from the chair.

“We have this fully circular system built into our product development,” Shirtcliffe said.

Noho was spun out of New Zealand-based high-end office chair manufacturer Formway Design Studios Ltd. 

“We wanted to bring this kind of dynamic comfort from the office to the home,” Shirtcliffe said. “There’s always been such a disparity between ergonomically designed office chairs and chairs we use at home … We really wanted to build something that moves and flexes and flows with the human body.”

The first Noho line of chairs are currently in production and presales start in October.

Noho’s headquarters and sales team is based in Boulder. The firm has left its design and manufacturing operations in New Zealand in order to take advantage of that country’s renewable energy infrastructure.

The company’s current Boulder operations are based out of Industrious, a coworking space near the Pearl Street Mall.

“If you’re going to launch a digitally native brand and have designs on making a real difference, you really have to be based in the United States,” he said. “It was important to us, when deciding where to locate within the U.S., to choose a place where we saw our values reflected. Boulder really stood out to us from that perspective. The outdoor lifestyle and attitude of New Zealand is a lot like what we see here in Boulder.”

Boulder also “occupies this unique space that is the intersection of the tech world and the sustainable product world,” Shirtcliffe said.

BOULDER — Comfort, environmental sustainability and fishing nets are three topics that don’t often get grouped together. But Richard Shirtcliffe is building a new furniture company on those very pillars.

Noho PBC, which Shirtcliffe founded, is making chairs for the home from recycled — or “upcycled” — fishing nets.

The Boulder-based, New Zealand-born company arose from Shirtcliffe’s “passion for finding a way to commercially tackle waste plastics,” he told BizWest.

The inspiration for Noho, which roughly translates to “sit, stay, dwell and live” in the Maori language spoken by the indigenous Maori people of Shirtcliffe’s native New Zealand, came in part from a trip Shirtcliffe and his family took to Indonesia.

“We were all learning to surf,” he said. “It was magical — except for all of the plastic in the ocean washing around everywhere. It really troubled me that my kids thought that was normal.”

Shirtcliffe, looking for ways to make a dent in the plastics problem, stumbled across manufacturers of a material called Econyl. Developed by Italian firm Aquafil, Econyl is a nylon substance made from the repolymerization of commercial fishing nets.

While the Noho products are designed to last a lifetime, they can be recycled and turned back into usable nylon if a customer decides to move on from the chair.

“We have this fully circular system built into our product development,” Shirtcliffe said.

Noho was spun out of New Zealand-based high-end office chair manufacturer Formway Design Studios Ltd. 

“We wanted to bring this kind of dynamic comfort from the office to the home,”…