Founder of Full Grown in Derbyshire, England, Gavin Munro has found a simpler and more eco-friendly way to create wooden furniture: he uses specially designed plastic frames to mold young willow, oak, ash and sycamore trees into the shape of chairs, tables, frames, or lamps as they’re growing. While requiring careful planning and additional work upfront, taking young trees and turning them as they grow into chairs, tables and lamps both shortens the construction cycle and eliminates the need to reconnect disparate pieces.
Gavin aims to challenge “the way we create products as well as how we see the items with which we surround ourselves, the Grown Furniture has an immediate tactile, visceral and organic appeal.” Gavin thinks of this process as a kind of “organic 3D printing that uses air, soil and sunshine as its source materials. After it’s grown into the shape we want, we continue to care for and nurture the tree, while it thickens and matures, before harvesting it in the Winter and then letting it season and dry. It’s then a matter of planing and finishing to show off the wood and grain inside.”
Full Grown is currently tending a small furniture forest of 400 trees in a field north of Derby. “If we want the beauty of wood in our furniture, why do we bother growing trees for more than 60 years, only to chop them up into little bits?” Munro says. Using this method, growing an individual tree into a complete chair takes anywhere from four to eight years. “I’m only making 50 or so pieces per year but for every 100 trees you grow there are a 1,000 branches you need to care for, and 10,000 shoots you have to prune at the right time.”
Still, the scale and ambitions here are, however, much bigger – creating full crops of grown furniture, turning a one-off idea into a potentially mass-produced (but always unique) product line.