When Gavin Munro was a young boy, he saw an overgrown bonsai tree that resembled a throne. Soon after, he got a spinal graft, requiring him to wear a back brace to heal and align his bones: “There were long periods of staying still, plenty of time to observe everything going on,” he says on his website. Over 25 years later, Munro is creating a farm where planted trees can be grown around braces and harvested as fully formed furniture like chairs, sculptures, lamps, and tables.
Using the so called “Zen 3D printing”, the designer is changing the whole notion of traditional furniture design. Instead of cutting and carving the live trees, his company Full Grown grows the furniture instead. Trees are strategically planted, grafted, and shaped into specific structures. When harvested, they’re already elegant furniture pieces.
It took Gavin and his team around 10 years to develop the technique, as growing the mature tree is a rather long process. Their open-air factory, located in the UK, is a four-acre field with 3,000 trees planted. They currently have 500 pieces in production, which include chairs, lamps, and tables. No glue or joints are used in the finished pieces, just grafts where necessary. The result is beautifully sculptural pieces that honor the original material and demonstrate what subtle, human intervention can produce.
“As I studied art and design, we also studied how and where those materials we worked with came from and what would happen to them after they’d finished their useful life,” Munro tells The Creators Project. “This started a lifelong interest in simplicity and efficiency in processes from ‘cradle to grave.’” The material of wood, in particular, caught his eye: “It never fails to amaze me that wood is essentially solid air and sunshine.”
With low material costs and the ability to grow anywhere, Full Grown is an exciting concept that has the possibility to revolutionize the way we think about furniture design.