2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4, Page #44[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
“Furniture Farm” Turns Live Trees Into Chairs
Founder Gavin Munro started experimenting with the idea of making furniture out of living trees in 2006. “We’ve done a complete rethink of how wood is used as a material,” Munro says. In 2008, the company planted 3,000 willow and other species of trees in a 2.5-acre field in central England. Using furniture-shaped molds, Munro and his staff guide and graft branches into desired shapes.
The company’s goal is to create the world’s most eco-friendly furniture. “My chairs and tables are formed from one solid piece of wood, with no joints, no weak points and no unnecessary waste,” says Munro. “By the time the first pieces go on sale in 2016, it will represent 4 years of careful tending by us and 4 years of growth by Mother Nature.” At present, the company has about 400 pieces of furniture being grown.
While waiting 8 years for a chair to be made might test one’s patience, Munro adds the perspective of time and cost required to make a chair the conventional way. “First you’ve got to grow the trees, so allow about 50 years. Then you’ve got to chop them down. Next you have to transport the logs to a sawmill, so you’ll need to build roads and buy trucks. You’ll need to build a large facility to store the planks. The wood is then transported somewhere else and chopped up and stuck together, creating joints that will eventually come loose and fall apart.”
The company’s website offers this contrasting 4-stage recipe for “growing” furniture: 1) Plant trees and water well; 2) Train and graft chosen shoots around the frame; 3) Once the chair has formed, leave to thicken for a few years; 4) HARVEST! Season well, plane and polish to your chosen finish.
“We’ll only make 50 or so pieces per year but for every 100 trees there are 1,000 branches to care for, and 10,000 shoots to prune at the right time. It’s an art form in itself keeping track of everything.”
When available, chairs will cost $3,500 to $4,000 and lamps $1,500 to $2,000.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gavin Munro, Full Grown Ltd. (http://fullgrown.co.uk).
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