We often think of fine furniture coming from trees that have already been cut and milled. The process of growing the trees is not often considered but in England, there is a couple that shows just how much the growing process can have to do with the final product.
This couple doesn’t take in lumber to shape and carve the tables and chairs they produce. They own the Full Grown farm in Derbyshire, and according to Reuters, they sculpt live trees into individual pieces of furniture while they are still growing.
The trees that were planted by Gavin and Alice Munro a decade ago would eventually become the first furniture material they produced. They work with the trees while they are growing to manipulate the shoots to grow in different directions. Doing so allows them to shape the tree as if it was a sculpture and they take years to complete. “It was inspired by seeing an overgrown bonsai tree that looked a little like a throne,” the Munros told Mental Floss in an email. Gavin was inspired by the metal braces he wore as a child to strengthen and straighten his spine curvature.
They have used this method to grow tables, chairs, and lamps. Each individual piece functions just like regular furniture but, because of the growing and manufacturing style, each of them has a unique and beautiful design.
Sustainability is the name of the game on the furniture farm. Conventional farms will often cut down trees and carve them into much smaller pieces. A lot of waste and carbon emissions are produced with that method. The Munros’ offer an alternative method that is very efficient and has a much lower carbon footprint.
Gavin describes the tree sculpting as ‘zen 3D printing’ but he doesn’t think that it will eventually replace the mass production of furniture. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into each piece of furniture that grows on the farm.
As an example, you can expect six or nine years of growth for each chair and then another year for the tree to dry. The chair commissions at Full Grown are already booked through 2030 but there are going to be chairs and lamps harvested in 2022 or 2023 if you want an item that is ready for sale.
If you are interested in a piece of this unique furniture, you need to come prepared to pull out your wallet. A lamp will cost you between $2500-$2800 and a table may fetch up to $15,600! The Munros are hoping that they will eventually be able to expand the operation so that the products are more accessible.
“Once we can get our Furniture Orchard having regular harvests then we can begin to plan a whole farm and start some larger-scale experiments in production and ecosystem design,” they said.
Take a closer look at their production process in this video:
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