Gavin Munro has grown his business literally from the ground up. “We’ve taken a complete rethink of how wood is used as a material,” says Munro, a furniture designer and owner of Full Grown, an ecological, zero-waste producer of wood furniture.
Instead of traditional methods — harvesting trees, milling, shaping and assembling the wood into furniture — “We’ve bypassed that completely and we now grow trees directly into the shapes and forms that we want,” he says.
It can take approximately four to eight years to harvest a single piece of furniture, depending on the species.
“The first challenge is the practical fact that what we’re doing is neatly organizing a small forest. I’m only making 50 or so pieces a year, but for every 100 trees you grow, there are 1,000 branches you need to care for, and 10,000 shoots you have to prune at the right time.”
While the method may be time consuming, on the plus side, since the furniture is one-piece construction, there will never be any joints that will loosen over time. Full Grown offers tables, lamps and mirror frames, with chairs expected to be ready for sale to the general public by mid-2017, according to the company’s website www.FullGrown.co.uk.
“I’m interested in the way that this is like an organic 3D printing that uses air, soil and sunshine as its materials,” Munro says. “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.”
The concept of “growing furniture” is not new. Munro says while a child, he was inspired by watching an overgrown bonsai take the shape of a throne.
The concept of "growing furniture" is not new. Munro says while a child, he was inspired by watching an overgrown bonsai take the shape of a throne. The idea continued to germinate throughout the years and he later experimented with driftwood furniture while living in California after college. That experience led to the start of Full Grown, and the company’s unique “manufacturing” philosophy.
“In many ways, you don’t know what’s going to happen until we start working on it,” he says. “With each piece, there’s no way not to see it’s come from a tree.”
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