Money might not grow on trees, but it seems that furniture does! Gavin Munro, a UK-based designer, has come up with a brilliant alternative to chopping beautiful trees and converting them into furniture. He simply molds young saplings to take the shape of any piece of furniture he wants. Once matured, the trees are ready to be harvested and used with no cutting, sawing, or assembling required. Munro, who runs a company called ‘Full Grown’, said he wants to “rethink our relationship with trees and time.” His idea is to get rid of environmentally unfriendly practices involved in the mass manufacture of furniture, and replace it with a much easier process.
“When you look at it from a manufacturing point of view and from a design point of view, it actually makes total sense. Why would you grow trees, chop them down with all the faff?” he questioned. “Why don’t you just grow the shape you want and it is eminently scalable? You can make thousands of these in the same way as you can make 10, but each one is unique.”
He first came up with the idea of growing furniture when he was working as a gardener in California and also made furniture with washed up driftwood on the side. One day, as he was working on some wood, he recalled how his mother’s bonsai tree had outgrown itself to resemble a throne. That’s when he thought, “Why do we need to bring all of these things together – chop the trees down, make them small, stick them back together again. We can just start from growing the tree from the beginning.”
After several attempts at what he calls ‘botanical manufacturing’, he finally managed to develop a prototype chair using four trees. Munro is now tending to a small 2.5-acre ‘furniture forest’ of 400 trees in a field north of Derby, England. He uses specially designed plastic frames to mold young willow, oak, ash, and sycamore trees into the shapes of chairs, tables, frames, or lamps.