Plant and Grow An Armchair in Your Garden With Incredible “Growing Furniture”
What happens when you take the basic principles of nature and apply them to furniture? For architects of the Torino, Italy-based studio Nucleo, the result was a TERRA! armchair that physically grows in a garden the same way a tree grows.
Studio Nucleo recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch their “growing furniture” idea into production. “The contact to nature, building a nest to rest in… this is the concept the project started with,” Piergiorgio Robino, one of the creators of the project, explains in his Kickstarter video.
TERRA! is a perforated cardboard frame that functions as a skeleton for a chair. You plant this frame in your garden, fill it with dirt, and then sprinkle the seeds on top in order for the grass to grow. Eventually, the chair will entomb itself into the surrounding landscape, becoming a seamless part of it. At its core, architects Robino and Andrea Sanna fuse architecture with nature and design to create a chair that blends into the earth; a chair made of nature itself.
The duo created the original TERRA! model in 1999. At the time, growing furniture was hugely popular and received critical acclaim for its innovation and design precepts. In 2001, TERRA! was selected for the XIX Compasso d’Oro as a “Product for the Community” Award. In the early 2000s, it went on to be displayed in Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou and the Triennale in Milan. Robino and Sanna sold 4,000 units of the first version, but stopped production because the business didn’t seem sustainable.
Today, Nucleo is systematizing TERRA! as a reproducible product in a way that makes it easy to distribute around the globe. (It’s not a finished product– it’s an idea– they say.) But in 2017, when the relationship between the consumer and producer has changed (given the rise of platforms like Kickstarter), bespoke innovators are able to take advantage of the opportunity to build without the hefty overhead costs of working with design companies. Instead, they’ve turned to a do-it-yourself version of this inspiring idea. “We believe that now more than ever, the design production needs a new approach– a new return to the natural, to the roots,” they add.
After Sanna and Robino formed Nucleo, TERRA! was the studio’s first project. The founders say that the Kickstarter project was inspired by a letter they received from a fan of their work back when the chair was on display in the early 2000s, asking to place two orders– a prospect which lead them to revisit the 1999 version.
“We provide the cardboard frame, the main ingredient, and the dirt can be found everywhere on our planet. The armchair will be born in your garden and becomes part of your landscape,” they say. In addition to the chair version, the TERRA! campaign includes a sofa and kids version as well as site-specific projects.
At the heart of TERRA! is an emphasis on the innovative, the sustainable, and the low-maintenance. In addition to the cardboard frames, the architects are also offering a paper version, a complete do-it-yourself option just like a tailor’s paper pattern, wherein the model can be adapted to 3 mm cardboard.
The backers for TERRA! come from all over the world, with a vast majority from the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, all of which illustrates that interest in the concept is international. The project is a work in progress, but since the cardboard frame is so easy to transport and reproduce, TERRA! provides a promising template and even more potential for the future of adaptable furniture.
For more information on Studio Nucleo’s TERRA! Growing Furniture, visit their Kickstarter page.