Growing Chairs


One of Full Grown's freshly harvested chairs
photo by Full Grown

Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at a business that grows trees into chairs! This simple method is a way to help the environment and create beauty.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Have you ever walked through a field of trees? What did you see growing there? Was it fruit? It may have been something like apples or oranges or pears. But in one farm in England, there is a very different kind of field of trees. These trees do not produce fruit. In fact, they do not make anything you can eat. This farm is growing furniture! There are lines of trees growing into chairs, tables, lamps, mirror frames and other useful things for a home.

Voice 2  

Gavin Munro is the person growing these chairs and other things. His project is called “Full Grown”. Today’s Spotlight is on this special project of growing trees into furniture.

Voice 1  

Gavin Munro grew up in the United Kingdom. When Munro was a small boy, he had many medical operations. These operations made the bones in his back straight. After each operation he could not move very much. He had to be very still while the bones healed. As a boy, he had a lot of time to look at the forest outside his window. He remembers one particular tree. It was a wild tree, but it had grown into the shape of a chair.

Voice 2  

Years later, Munro’s back was fixed. But he still thought about that tree shaped as a seat. Munro liked to make furniture. He used the wood that washed up on the sand after floating in the ocean. But then he had another idea. He told The Guardian news organization:

Voice 3  

“Why do we cut the trees down, then make them small, then stick them back together again? We can just start from growing the tree from the beginning.”

Voice 1  

Munro wanted to make chairs and tables in a very different way. On the Full Grown website he writes:

Voice 3  

"I was left with the desire to do more than just to make things as beautifully as I could. I wanted to make the whole creative process as simple and elegant as possible."

Voice 2  

Traditionally, making furniture is a complex process. Large trees are cut down. Trucks take the cut trees to mills. Mills cut and dry the wood. They may even cut the wood again into smaller pieces. These pieces go to stores. The stores sell the pieces to people who again cut and shape them into what they are making. This process takes many people and a lot of energy. It also produces a lot of wasted wood every time a piece gets cut smaller.

Voice 1  

Munro wanted to change this process. He wanted to make things slowly, in a way that did not waste wood. And he wanted his way to take care of the environment. He told the Guardian:

Voice 3  

“When you look at the process from a manufacturing point of view and from a design point of view, it makes total sense. Why would you grow trees and do all the extra work? Why not just grow the shape you want? You can make thousands of chairs the same way as you can make ten. But each one is different.”

Voice 2  

But how do you grow a chair? Munro begins by planting a young tree. Then he shapes it around a plastic guide as it grows. He cares for the tree. He moves it and cuts the extra parts off of it. He ties some of the branches together. After a time, the branches begin to grow together to form the shape of a chair. The process is very slow and very complex. Munro explains that,

Voice 3  

“What we are doing is neatly organizing a small forest. I am 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. There are 10,000 parts of trees you have to cut at the correct time. It is an art form just organizing everything.”

Voice 1  

It took Munro a long time to test how to grow trees into chairs. It takes about four to eight years to grow a single chair. And there were also problems he could not have expected. Early in this project, cows ran through the property. They damaged many of the young trees. This delayed the project.

Voice 2  

The good news for Munro is that people like his chairs. So many people want to buy one of his chairs that there is a waiting list. Some people like the process Munro uses. Other people like the beautiful chair. Munro thinks that people should not have to choose. He believes the chairs will not just be useful but also comfortable. He says they could last longer than furniture made in other ways. The chairs grow in one solid piece so there are no joints, nails, or glue that can break apart.

Voice 1  

Munro’s chairs currently cost a lot of money. People who buy them believe they are a work of art more than something to sit on. One of Munro’s early chairs is even on display in the National Museum of Scotland. But Munro hopes that as his company expands, the cost of the chairs will come down.

Voice 2  

This could take time. But Munro has learned to be patient. He learned patience as a child recovering in the hospital. He learned that results take time. But he used his experience do something new and creative. Shaping trees into chairs takes a lot of time. Not everyone would be patient enough. Munro also wants his business to do well. He has created other products that take less time to grow. These include lamps, mirror frames, and tables. But he wants to work with nature, not against it. He says,

Voice 3  

“The trees are growing and all we are doing is shaping the ends as it grows along. The secret is to let the tree grow and just guide it as you go along. That is the beauty of it. It is so simple.”

Voice 1  

What about you? Have you ever had to wait for something you wanted? Was it worth the wait? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Growing Chairs’.

Voice 1  

Look for our listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever had to have patience? Are you good at being patient?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on October 19, 2018

I think I’m very patient, but Munro is a point out of the curve. Go be patient so in the Scotland! Jesus Christ! But every crazy man has his own behaviour and, so, I’ll be patient with Munro.

Avatar Spotlight
ShoSha
said on October 20, 2018

Hi,
Well, when in I was listening to this program I was thinking how can I make sure that I’m doing the English practice in the right way , no one listen for me, no one know if I read the story as it’s correct :(
Any way, for me, I think in this time of my life, I began to learn the patience from the stories in Holy Quran, which tell us the problems that happens for the prophets with there people , and they were had heart which is full of mercy to guide them.
Patience is very dramatic thing to have , every one have a level , every patience depend on this level. I hope my faith, my prayers increase my patience and make me a strong person to reach for many successful goals in life. Thanks for this chance . Peace upon all of you in the world.(sorry if my English is bad or wrong, I wish I wrote my feelings in good way and clear understanding)

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on October 20, 2018

Hi, Shosha!
I read your comment and understood very well what you said. I have the same troubles, but recently I received lesson where my reports were apreciated.
I read every comment that comes to me.
Thank you and let’s go ahead…