Some people like to grow fruits, others prefer to focus on vegetables. Then there is Gavin Munro, who is partial to cultivating furniture. No, he is not a scientist with a crazy idea, but an ordinary man who is living his dream of growing "green" chairs!
The founder of Derbyshire, England-based Full Grown, says the idea of creating "living furniture" came to him at a young age when he stumbled upon a bonsai tree that resembled a chair. Though it took another 25 years before Munro began to morph trees into furniture and an additional eight for his vision to become a reality, he never gave up.
To coax his trees to grow into chairs, Munro shapes and bends the saplings using custom-made plastic molds. As you can imagine, this is no easy task. For every 50 chairs made, 1,000 branches must be manipulated. This is in addition to the 10,000 shoots that have to be pruned at just the right moment to keep the trees healthy and maintain the correct form. Once the desired shape is attained, Munro and his team continue to monitor the progress until the tree is mature and ready to be cut.
The chairs are usually harvested during winter and then allowed to dry for a few months. The furniture growers use this time to smoothen the arms and seats. In addition to making the chairs more comfortable, this also helps expose the wood's distinct grain. In addition to chairs, Munro also grows smaller objects, namely lamp shades, mirror frames, and side tables. Though the initial crop of furniture was grown using willow trees, the company is currently experimenting with other tree types like Ash, Sycamore, Hazel, Crabapple, Sessile Oak, and Red Oak.
The idea of molding trees into furniture is not new. The Chinese have been making stools by placing rocks in tree holes for centuries. However, Full Grown is the first company that is attempting to make naturally grown furniture for the mass market.
Not surprisingly, the natural approach to creating furniture is exceptionally environmentally friendly. That's because unlike traditional furniture, Munro’s trees are never cut, chopped or sent away to a mill. As a result, they utilize 25% less energy. To ensure that the process is even "greener," all molds are crafted from recycled plastic, and the small office that sits amid the furniture "grove" is powered by solar panels.
While Full Grown's one-of-a-kind chairs will not be available to the public until 2017, their smaller creations like the lamps are expected to be ready as early as 2016. But these treasures will not come cheap. Munro expects to retail each chair for a hefty sum of $3,700! Though that may seem expensive, it is to be expected given that it takes between five to eight years for each unique masterpiece to grow and mature.
Resources: fullygrown.co.uk, gizmag.com