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Making Furniture by Molding Growing Trees Into Chairs, Tables, and More

Wooden furniture might not strike you as particularly unsustainable for the environment. But consider all the energy wasted by growing a tree for 60 years, chopping it down, and shipping it to a factory, where it will get further pulverized only to be re-shaped into a usable piece of furniture.

Gavin Munro, a furniture designer based in Derbyshire, England, has found a way to cut out all the steps after the growing. His company, Full Grown, uses specially designed plastic frames and strategic grafting to mold young willow, oak, ash, and sycamore trees into a chair, table, mirror, or lamp. The end result is a sturdy piece of furniture made of a single, continuous piece of wood without joints or the need for any assembly.

After his initial attempts at this so-called "botanical manufacturing" were destroyed by meandering cows, Munro successfully grew a chair out of four separate trees grafted together. Now, on a 2.5 acre farm in Wirksworth Munro, 39, tends and sculpts a furniture forest of 400 trees, divided by wood type and intended object.

"In essence, it’s an incredibly simple art," he told Fast Company. "You start by training and pruning young tree branches as they grow over specially made formers. At certain points we then graft them together so that the object grows in to one solid piece." After the wood matures to be strong and stable, the piece will be harvested. And although the process is uniform, the result is distinct.

"You can make thousands of these in the same way as you can make 10, but each one is unique," Munro told the Guardian.


The first chairs, which each take about four years, should be ready for exhibition this October. You can preorder one now to be delivered mid-2017, but Munro can only make about 50 pieces a year and each one will cost you $3700—a price that reflects what is still essentially functional art. But Munro hopes Full Grown will itself grow, and perhaps inspire similar eco-friendly furniture production companies if the revolutionary method proves viable and popular. "We hope and trust that this will eventually become an improvement on current methods," he says.

All photos courtesy of Full Grown Facebook page.

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Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
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architecture
Vantablack Pavilion at the Winter Olympics Mimics the Darkness of Space
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

British company Surrey NanoSystems disrupted the color spectrum when it debuted Vantablack: the darkest artificial substance ever made. The material is dark enough to absorb virtually all light waves, making 3D objects look like endless black voids. It was originally designed for technology, but artists and designers have embraced the unique shade. Now, Dezeen reports that British architect Asif Khan has brought Vantablack to the Winter Olympics.

His temporary pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea has been dubbed the darkest building on Earth. The 33-foot-tall structure has been coated with Vantablack VBx2, a version of Vantablack pigment that comes in a spray can.

The building’s sides curve inward like shadowboxes. To break up the all-consuming blackness, Khan outfitted the walls with rods. White lights at the ends of the sticks create the effect of stars scattered across an endless night sky.

Child next to wall painted to look like the night sky.
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

Khan told Dezeen that the piece is meant to give “the impression of a window cut into space.” He was only able to realize this vision after contacting the scientists behind Vantablack. He told them he wanted to use the color to coat a building, something the pigment wasn’t designed for originally. Sculptor Anish Kapoor securing exclusive rights to artistic use of the color in 2016 further complicated his plans. The solution was the sprayable version: Vantablack VBx2 is structurally (and therefore legally) different from the original pigment and better suited for large-scale projects.

The pavilion was commissioned by Hyundai to promote their hydrogen fuel cell technology. The space-themed exterior is a nod to the hydrogen in stars. Inside, a white room filled with sprinklers is meant to represent the hydrogen found in water.

The area will be open to visitors during the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, February 9.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Shari Austrian
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Design
You Can Order a Stunningly Detailed LEGO Replica of Your House on Etsy
Shari Austrian
Shari Austrian

LEGO blocks can be used to construct fictional starships and works of abstract art, but there's something comforting in replicating what's familiar to you. That's the concept behind Little Brick Lane, an Etsy shop that promises to custom-build detailed LEGO models of real homes.

Designer Shari Austrian tells Apartment Therapy that the idea came to her when her family was building their real-life house. Her twin boys had recently gotten her interested in LEGO, so she decided to construct a scaled-down, blocky replica to match their new home. She enjoyed the project enough to launch a business around LEGO architecture on Etsy at the end of 2017.

Austrian bases her designs off interior and exterior photos of each house, and if they're available, architectural plans. Over eight to 10 weeks, she constructs the model using LEGO pieces she orders to match the building design perfectly, recreating both the inside and outside of the house in the utmost detail.

To request a custom LEGO abode of your own, you can reach out to Austrian through her Etsy shop, but warning: It won't come cheap. A full model will cost you at least $2500 (the exact price is based on the square footage of your home). That price covers the cost of the materials Austrian invests in each house, which can add up quick. "The average LEGO piece costs approximately 10 cents," she tells Mental Floss, and her models are made up of tens of thousands of pieces. But if you're looking for something slightly cheaper, she also offers exterior-only models for $1500 and up.

For your money, you can be confident that Austrian won't skimp on any details. As you can see in the images below, every feature of your house—from the appliances in your kitchen to the flowers in your yard—will be immortalized in carefully chosen plastic bricks.

A bedroom made of LEGO

A kitchen model made of LEGO

The exterior of a house made of LEGO

[h/t Apartment Therapy]

All images courtesy of Shari Austrian.

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