A British designer has come up with a brilliant way to create stunningly unique, eco-friendly furniture - and he's letting mother nature do the heavy lifting.
By growing young trees into specially made plastic molds and carefully monitoring and pruning their growth, Gavin Munro has found a way to create naturally grown furniture. He's already created multiple prototypes and is currently tending a field in Derbyshire, England, from which he will "harvest" roughly 400 tables, lampshades and chairs.
Here's the field where British designer Gavin Munro grows his incredible furniture.
This row of willow branches is growing directly into a chair-shaped mold. Gavin hopes to have these chairs ready to sell by 2017.
Prototype models of a table and chair.
Gavin, a 39-year-old environmentalist, has dubbed his technique "botanical manufacturing," and believes it could one day lead to large-scale manufacturing of sustainable, ecologically sound furniture.
The process begins with training and pruning young branches to make sure they grow in the right shapes over the mold. At certain points, branches are grafted together so that the joints grow as a solid piece. Gavin likens it to "organic 3-D printing." Once the branches have grown to the desired shape and strength, they're carefully finished to show off the wood grain inside.
Gavin posing with a prototype wooden lampshade.
A light shade being grown.
The finished light shade.
Gavin works with his wife, Alice, to make his unique furniture. They use primarily willow, due to its strength and how quickly it grows, but they are experimenting with a few other types of woods. He says that his chairs will last longer than traditional chairs since his chairs aren't weak around the joints, because the grafted joint is stronger than one made with nails.