Full Grown’s prototype willow chair now in the permanent collection at the National Museum of Scotland.
The most common way of producing wooden furniture is fairly straightforward: grow the proper trees for a few decades, chop ’em down, cut them into smaller pieces and assemble the pieces into a chair. Derbyshire-based furniture designer Gavin Munro wondered if he could try a wholly different approach: what if he could just grow chairs? What if trees could be forced to grow in chair-like shapes and through strategic sculpting and grafting result in an annual “chair harvest.” After a lengthy years-long trial in his mother’s garden and a sturdy proof-of-concept, Full Grown was born.
Munro points out that the idea of growing furniture actually dates back millennia. The Chinese were known to dig holes to fill with chair-shaped rocks and had tree roots grow through the gaps, while the Egyptians and Greeks had a method for growing small stools. But Full Grown appears to be on a scale entirely of its own, with an entire farm destined to be harvested into chairs, assorted light fixtures, and other unusual objects. He shares a bit about the process which can take between 4 to 8 years:
In essence it’s an incredibly simple art. You start by training and pruning young tree branches as they grow over specially made formers. At certain points we then graft them together so that the object grows into one solid piece – I’m interested in the way that this is like an 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’s first prototype willow chair has already found its way into the permanent collection at the National Museum of Scotland, and Munro and his team just launched a Kickstarter to help them bridge the gap in the final year before their first harvest, nearly 11 years in the making. You can learn more on their website.
Although London-based designer Veega Tankun has only just graduated from the University of Brighton, she clearly possesses a strong sense of aesthetic and understanding of materials as evidenced in these comfy looking chairs woven from overstuffed knit tubes. Tankun says that she’s fascinated with rejuvenating old techniques in her design practice, bringing modern materials and color palettes to traditional production methods. “Traditional doesn’t always have to mean old and outdated, the trick is to make something that we know new and exciting again,” she shares.
This chunky chair is just one Tankun’s latest creations, you can explore more of her work on Design Milk and Instagram. Some of her pieces will also be on view at London’s Top Drawer starting next month.
As part of her ongoing series titled My Old New Chair, visual artist Tatiane Freitas repairs broken wood furniture by replacing the missing pieces with translucent acrylic. Much like the Japanese practice of kintsugi or medieval parchment repair, her designs restore functionality to the chairs while acknowledging the history of each piece. One chair from the series was recently included in the Clairvoyance exhibition at Guy Hepner in New York, and you can see more of her latest work on her website and Instagram. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Side note: did you know the country of Sweden offers tax breaks to people who choose to repair household appliances and bicycles instead of throwing them away?
Bruce Shapiro (previously) has transformed the tools that create sculpture into the sculpture itself, using CNC machines to produce tables that trace beautiful patterns in thin layers of sand. Shapiro named this kinetic art project Sisyphus, an appropriate title as the metal balls that move through each table’s sand seems to be forever rolling and creating patterns, much like the Greek myth.
Shapiro has been producing the Sisyphus sculptures for almost 20 years, and has permanent installations of his works in Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. Desiring the works to also live in individual homes, he has created a Kickstarter to begin production on three different types of smaller, domestic tables: an end table, three-foot metal coffee table, and a four-foot hardwood coffee table.
“Over time I have come to view Sisyphus as more than a kinetic art piece: it is an instrument,” said Shapiro. “As a musical instrument plays songs, Sisyphus plays paths. My goal with this Kickstarter is to get Sisyphus into people’s homes for them to enjoy as both furniture and art, but also, to inspire a community of composers to write ‘music’ for it.”
You can view Shaprio’s other artworks, including his projects that utilize computerized motion control, on his website.
Furniture designer Alexandre Chapelin (previously) wows us again with this new pair of tables that mimic a cross-section of an underwater reef. The Saint Martin-based artist uses natural stone encased in a translucent blue resin to “bring the ocean into your living room.” You can see more views of the new tables on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
Catering to musicians and music lovers alike, Los Angeles-based company TAYBLES has created a functional piece of furniture that also acts as a nostalgic throwback to the time of homemade mixtapes. The trio of artists behind the company produces cassette tape coffee tables, each work crafted from hardwood and sealed with clear epoxy. Every table also comes with a classic cassette label affixed to the top, and LED lights hidden within the center of the mixtape’s holes. You can buy your own custom mixtape on the company’s Etsy shop 214Graffiti, and browse more designs on their website. (via So Super Awesome)