|Dr Christopher Cattle being aware of the environmental problems, started looking for ways to produce furniture which was less energy intensive than the known methods.
In 1978/9 the idea came to him that training and grafting trees to shape as they grew might work.
At this time in his life he was doing a lot of lecturing from day to day, and it took a few years before he decided to try it out for himself. He had absolutely no experience of growing anything, as his training and experience was all concerned with furniture production for industry. He was starting as a complete novice.
Starting from scratch, he decided on a form and method to experiment with. He found a friendly university nearby which had the expertise he believed he needed, and which had an area of suitable ground. It wasn’t until 1993 that he actually managed to “put the wheels in motion” and it would be March 1996 before he was able to plant the first trial. As this was to be an academic exercise, supported by a lengthy written dissertation etc, partly explains the timing.
The success of his method is that he was able to shape a variety of different trees, successfully reproducing his original design. This means he has an understanding of how and why his design works.
Quote from Dr Christopher Cattle’s web site ” My aim though, is to encourage as many people as possible to try it for themselves, so I’m sticking with this simple stool. I call it ‘grownup’ furniture as it’s the result of mature thinking.
Growing furniture isn’t going to save the planet, but it can show that it’s possible to create genuinely useful things without adding to the pollution that industry inevitably seems to produce. Trees are self-generating, and the only energy needed is that which the sun provides worldwide. It’s free and it’s non-polluting. Training and grafting trees are established traditional crafts, and wood is durable but it’s also biodegradable. So when a wooden object is no longer wanted, it doesn’t have to end up in a hole in the ground. So let’s do whatever we can to encourage the revival of such simple and ecologically sound methods, and to promote and encourage new thought along these lines.”
He has a website with more photos and advice on growing the stools;grown-furniture.co.uk