British designer Gavin Munro has come up with a way to really up your sustainability game. He has created a way to manufacture household furniture that isn’t made by machines in a factory, and does not involve clear cutting mature trees and all the environmental risks that come with it.
Mr. Munro and his wife Alice grow furniture in a field, outside, with nature doing a majority of the hard work!
Plastic moulds along with pruning and guiding are used to help young willow trees form into the shape of a chair, table or lampshade. The trees are then grafted together to help make joints incredibly strong.
Mr. Munro, who’s named his company Full Grown, has his crop of botanical furniture located on the British countryside in Derbyshire, England where he, along with his wife Alice, tend to the young willow trees, making about 50 or pieces per year.
While that number may seem small crop to look after, for every 100 trees there are 1000 branches that needed to be tended to and 10,000 shoots that need to pruned at the right time. The husband and wife duo definitely have their work cut out for them, Gavin left his job as a gardener and web designer to work full time on what essentially is a well-organized small forest.
Growing furniture might not be something you commonly see nowadays, but the practice of using nature to make furniture and even houses, has been done for centuries. Three legged stools thought to be made from wood grown in into curved shapes were commonplace in ancient Egypt. Greek Klismos chairs date as far back as 500 BC and featured wood artificially trained to produce the desired curves feature in the chairs design. Garden houses made from trees originated in the Middle East before spreading to Europe in the 15-1600’s. Until the 1940s grown walking sticks and pitchforks were the norm and in 1908 John Krubsack, a farmer from Wisconsin, grew a chair using 28 box elder trees taking almost 11 years to grow from seedling to chair.
Gavin initially got the idea of growing furniture when he was a young boy and noticed an overgrown Bonsai tree in his backyard that resembled a chair. It was an image that stuck with him throughout the years, as he got older he dabbled in with making furniture out of driftwood and eventually grew his first prototype chair about 10 years ago.
The duo have done an amazing job of keeping their whole operation as green as possible. The plastic molds they use to shape the chairs are made of recycled plastic equaling as much corrugated light plastic used in two “for sale” signs.
Energy consumption is also kept to minimum which Munro’s estimates that to grow the entire Furniture Field for a year, the energy consumption is equal to eight 60w lightbulbs burning for eight hours a day for a year.
Since the all the furniture grown by Full Grown is free of nails, glue and connected joints that are weak, they last much longer than traditionally manufactured furniture and early calculations estimate 25% less energy is needed to grow a wooden chair compared to conventional manufacturing methods.
Pieces can be pre-ordered on the company’s website with chairs selling for about £2500 each and light shades going for between £1000 and £1500.
Most of the pieces from their first crop of grown furniture have already been pre-ordered by eager individuals who want a unique and environmentally friendly piece of furniture the blurs the lines between sustainability and art.
The Munro’s are hoping to have their first crop of furniture harvested by 2016 and ready for sale by 2017, weather and wildlife permitting of course. If this process of growing furniture really takes off, your next dinner table could easily come from the garden.