[CHALLENGE] 4c4a: Grown furniture

This is Challenge 4c1a from CH 4c: Community level circular products and services



Note: All our challenges are collaborative. Skype, email or contact us if you want to work with us in real-time! Let’s make a better world for everyone together! gien@stopresetgo.org

Plants grow on their own when supplied with a few basic ingredients - sunshine, water and soil. The traditional method of furniture production is to harvest plant material and subject it to mechanical, biological and chemical processes to create a final functional design. Instead, is it possible to simply apply forms and shape the plants into the final production design piece? Finished pieces of “grown furniture” have a much more organic appearance and much lower inputs, hence are perfect for a circular economy. What’s more, because it is not assembled using mechanical, metal hardware, it can save on those inputs plus can be 100% compostable. Spare parts may be an issue as no two structures are the same.


Activity: Global brainstorm session and begin initial design

Investigate the feasibilty of growing furniture in South Africa. Questions include:

  • What criteria must plants meet for grown furniture?
  • Shortlist plant candidates of South Africa for grown furniture
  • What biomes and climates are optimum for growing furniture?
  • What kind of furniture is suitable to grow? Tables? Chairs? What else?
  • How do we design forms for grown furniture?
  • What are the process steps for growing furniture?
  • What are the ecological and economic costs of growing furniture?


  • industrial design
  • arboriculture (cultivation, management, and study of individual trees)
  • furniture design
  • biomimicry



I think in Varambon they are going to work on something similar ping @LesUsines_Louise

Cool. I pinged her. Thanks!

Hi Gien,

I can’t seem to get emails to you. Could you give me a different email address or contact details?

Hi Gien, yes, I am working on such a project, as part of the biomimicry lab at La [M[Y]NE][1] in Lyon. We have started listing research steps and even so we are not very far into it I will share as soon as I get a little time to translate into english). I am very much looking forward to participating!

With this project I hope to make many bridges between science and art. Here is a link to [a video of an early prototype of the project TREEcoach][2] We have also started listing research steps and I will share them

Hi Gavin,

You can send to me at gien@stopresetgo.org

Hi Louise,

Claire Janisch is founder of Biomimicry SA who is speaking at the event. I’m talking to her as well as my colleague at IFL, Lerato Thahane who is an ecologist who knows plant species in Southern Africa. It will be cool if we could work together and start growing furniture!


Great! I understand I will be able to follow this live on google hangout? And then participate directly? How does this work? should I sign up for something?

Yes, we can do a hangout.

If you’ve never done a hangout before, you just need to have the following:

  1. make sure your camera and mic are working.
  2. signup for gmail account
  3. download and install the hangout application at the hangout site:


  1. wait for me to send you a link to the hangout page. When you receive it, just click on it and it will take you there.

We are having our challenges June 13 and 14 in the afternoon. June 13: 3pm to 5pm, June 14: 4pm to 5pm
So just let me know if either of these times work for you. If not we can try scheduling something in the morning.

Look forward to working together!

wonderfull I’ll be there, I will let you know when its best for me soon. (a bit under the gun right now finish setting up :slight_smile:

Got some good news, Louise…

Gavin Munro just got in contact with me. He wants to work with us on Saturday workshop / challenge to help us explore growing furniture in South Africa, France, …whereever!


I have to show him how to use hangout then he can join us.


…and Texas! This is really great, I can adapt to Gavin schedule, let me know.

Texas? Is that where you are? :smiley:

Gavin was thinking 1pm to 1:30pm SAST. This will be verified. This is what Gavin wrote:

Hi Gien,

Glad I’ve finally got through to you.

Thank you for writing.

That’s wonderful news!

It’s really really busy growing season right now so I’m not going to have time to prepare a ‘proper talk’ as such but I can tell you the basics and I can only assume you’ll have lots of questions too.

Have you read the Pooktre ebook? It’s a pretty good starting point. (Pooktre.com) I’d take it with a pinch of salt and the same with anything I might say too. It’s very early days in making this idea a fully functioning technique.

ok. 1pm is good. I’ll check back here for the hangout link.

There is a few people coming back for a second day so it will be our afternoon challenge.

oh! and I am in France now but have access to land in texas for potential testing.