You don't need woodworking skills to craft fine furniture from scratch. As one couple from England proved, all you need is a green thumb. Instead of carving their tables and chairs using lumber, the proprietors of Full Grown farm in Derbyshire sculpt live trees into furniture pieces as they grow, Reuters reports.
Gavin and Alice Munro planted the trees that would become their first furniture materials about a decade ago. By manipulating trees' growth and coercing new shoots to go in different directions, they were able to shape them like sculptures—ones that 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. They were also inspired by Gavin's experience wearing metal back braces as a child to straighten his curved spine.
The method has been used to grow chairs, lamps, and tables. The pieces are just as functional as regular furniture, and the unique manufacturing style makes for a beautiful, one-of-kind design. But the main goal of the furniture farm is sustainability. Conventional furniture is often made from wood that's been logged and carved into smaller pieces. This produces a lot of waste and carbon emissions. The Munros' streamlined process aims to be an ultra-efficient alternative.
Tree sculpting, or "zen 3D printing" as Gavin described it to Reuters, will likely never replace mass furniture production. Every piece of furniture requires a lot of time and labor to craft. For a chair, expect a six to nine-year growing period and another year for it to dry out. Full Grown's chair commissions are currently booked through 2030, but if you're willing to settle for a ready-for-sale item, the next chairs and lamp are set to be harvested sometime in 2022 or 2023. Just be ready to pay around $12,500 and up to $2800 for a lamp. Table prices vary the most, ranging from $3100 to $15,600. Eventually, the Munros hope to expand their operation and make the products a little 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.
You can get a behind-the-scenes look at their process in the video below.