The art of growing furniture – in pictures

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Artist and furniture maker Gavin Munro trains and prunes a tree over a frame to grow a complete table at the Full Grown plantation site near Wirksworth, central England. Deep in the English countryside, there’s a bizarre sight: rows of trees being grown into upside-down chairs, slowly taking shape over years of careful nurturing. Around 150 armchairs, 100 lampshades and other items including mirror frames are being grown out of the ground in a highly unusual adventure in furniture design. The company has produced some early prototypes, with each item one solid, joinless piece of wood. Oli Scarff / AFP

On a farm also containing a microbrewery, a smokery, flower cultivation and plenty of sheep, the rows of trees are growing around blue corrugated plastic frames.furniture design. The brainchild of Gavin Munro, his Full Grown company has produced some early prototypes, with each item one solid, joinless piece of wood. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Mr Munro, 40, nurtures them and coaxes them into shape, through years of pruning, coppicing and grafting. AFP


The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Willow can take four to five years to grow into a chair, whereas oak can take up to nine years. The designer also works with ash, hazel, crab apple and sycamore. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Early experiments with chemical weedkiller caused more harm than good, so organic methods are used. Powdery mildew is kept down with milk, while caterpillars are picked off. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

The daily duties involve groundkeeping and going round the furniture with secateurs. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Early experiences got Mr Munro’s mind racing about what he could do with trees. Mr Munro’s mother had an overgrown bonsai which looked like a throne, while a bad back as a youngster meant his spine was broken and reset in hospital. “That got me thinking about grafting and how things stick together,” he said. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

graduated in furniture design in Leeds, northern England, and ended up making items from driftwood in California. “I was stitching together bigger lumps and I had a ‘Eureka!’ moment: if we grow the things we want directly into the shape, there’s no waste,” Mr Munro said. “In 2005 I came back to the UK and got the chance to plant a few trees and see.” AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Nearly a decade on, the fruits of his labours are still up to two years away. The first chairs will be harvested at the end of 2016 in the depths of winter, planed and finished, then sold the following year. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Fortunately an investor is on board while the furniture matures. Chairs go for £2,500 (Dh14,223); lampshades start at £900 and hexagon-shaped mirrors at £450. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

Pre-sales have largely gone to customers in France and the United States, but the telephone is also buzzing with orders from London, Hong Kong, Germany and Spain. AFP

The art of growing furniture – in pictures

For the first eight years, word of the project did not stretch beyond the local area and “hill walkers that got lost”, said Mr Munro. “In the town, a few people really like it, a few think you’re nuts.” AFP

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