Almost 50 years after Enzo Mari gave instructions for building your own furniture, the British design and agriculture team Alice Munro and Gavin Munro are demonstrating that we can also grow furniture. Their organization Full Grown UK is researching, testing, prototyping, and putting into practice agricultural design methods to shape trees directly into furniture, “like an organic 3D printing that uses air, soil and sunshine as its source materials.”[i] Although growing a chair may take seven to nine years, the end product requires no assembly, adhesives, hardware, or major machine processes. No global supply chains of materials or associated energy consumption and pollution are involved; all materials are inherently local to their production.
This novel approach remakes the design process by applying agricultural knowledge, some of it quite ancient. In designing chairs, end tables, lamp shades, and other domestic furnishings to be grown from various species of trees, Full Grown UK uses the ancient art of coppicing as one of its design methods. Coppicing is a practice of cutting down trees to encourage regrowth. Full Grown UK designers have discovered that certain species regrow new branches in patterns matching the Fibonacci sequence. Based on this knowledge, furniture can be designed specifically to incorporate natural patterns into structural components of the finished pieces. This rethinking of the means of production has the added benefit of enormously decreasing the environmental impact of producing home goods. Although labor and land are required, new models of collective ownership and production are currently being tested, including a crowdfunding platform to support future harvests of furniture.
[i] Full Grown, “About Us,” accessed February 4, 2021, https://fullgrown.co.uk/about-grown-furniture/. — —
see also: https://fullgrown.co.uk/