Gavin Munro doesn’t just grow trees, he grows furniture. Making one piece of furniture can take decades using traditional methods, if you consider the time it takes to grow the tree. What if you could incorporate the growing of the tree into the process? By growing the tree into the shape you want, you avoid the energy-wasting consumption of fuel for chainsaws and other logging equipment, not to mention all of the tools you don’t need to produce the furniture. This is just what furniture designer Gavin Munro has in mind.
The process is simple. Plant and water the trees. As they grow, train and graft them accordingly. Once they’re mature, harvest them, then season and smooth them to the taste of the designer.
By using plastic molds that he designs, Munro, who is based in Derbyshire, England, has found a simpler, more sustainable way to create furniture. This simple art form not only creates stunningly beautiful furniture, but it also produces oxygen by day and absorbs carbon dioxide by night, Munro says.
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While the process may sound simple, Munro has nurtured the idea for many years. As a boy, he noticed a bonsai tree that had the distinct look of a chair—an image that remained in his mind for 25 years. Growing tree furniture is also a personal expression for Munro. He had to be “molded” much like one of his chairs, as a boy, when he was placed in a brace to straighten his spine. “It’s where I learnt patience. There were long periods of staying still, plenty of time to observe what was going on and reflect. It was only after doing this project for a few years a friend pointed out that I must know exactly what it’s like to be shaped and grafted on a similar time scale,” Munro said.
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After attending art college and getting a degree in furniture design, Munro went through a period of making driftwood furniture. That is when he realized that he could make trees grow into beautiful shapes.
With 3,000 trees planted on a 2.5 acre plot, production began in earnest in 2011, and now more employees and more designs are being cultivated. The first chairs will be ready for sale in 2017 at a cost of about $3,700 a piece. By the spring of 2016, pendant lamps and mirrors will also be available. The high cost takes into account the unique production method as well as the artistry of each piece. Remember, for every 50 chairs, there are 1,000 branches for which to care and 10,000 shoots to prune.
Images via Full Grown