Thursday Salute to Originals: Grow Your Own Furniture
There is no shortage of furniture designers working with wood in all forms, especially with the current popularity of reclaimed material. While the prototypical furniture maker is stocked with a workshop of utensils for cutting, sanding, gluing, and connecting, tools are not always necessary to create beautiful wood design. Today we highlight two furniture designers – one historical and one contemporary – that manage to manipulate wood without machine processing in any form.
John Krubsack began growing his own chair in 1907. Starting as a crafter of beechwood furniture in the traditional manner, John challenged himself to create a chair that would be stronger than human hands were capable of forming. Over an 11 year growing process, Krubsack bent and grafted the branches of box elder trees into specific shapes. Dubbed “The Chair That Grew”, the noteworthy chair remained an heirloom in Krubsack’s family where it was carefully protected from being sold into the mainstream market.
Gavin Munro could be considered Krubsack’s modern day counterpart. Munro’s company, Full Grown, creates homegrown chairs over a 4 to 8 year growing period. The modern process uses plastic frames to coax the trees into chairs, coffee tables, and benches. Approximately 50 pieces are created each year, tended by a careful pruning process that Munro likens to “organic 3D printing” by using nature’s elements as the input material.
Though decades apart, the two creators teach us similar lessons about man’s relationship to materials. In eschewing the mass-produced, we learn that carefully tending to a material (or a design) can indeed affect how it is received by the end user. These chairs are more special simply because of the process used to create them. And to allow that process to unfold, the designers must simultaneously surrender to and guide the materials they manipulate. For that, we salute Krubsack and Munro for their unwavering patience in harvesting nature directly into designed objects.