Odd Side – November 19, 2019

From Tree to Chair Without the Carpentry: U.K. Couple Grows Furniture

WIRKSWORTH, England (Reuters) – On a two-acre field in England’s Midlands, Gavin and Alice Munro are taking sustainability to the next level: they harvest trees which they train to grow into chairs.

The couple have a furniture farm in Derbyshire where they are nurturing 250 chairs, 100 lamps and 50 tables. It is their answer to what they see as the inefficient and carbon-heavy process of cutting down mature trees to create furniture.

“Instead of force-growing a tree for 50 years and then cutting it down and making it into smaller and smaller bits … the idea is to grow the tree into the shape that you want directly. It’s a kind of … 3D printing,” said Gavin.

Part of the inspiration for the idea came when Gavin was a young boy. He spotted an overgrown bonsai tree which looked like a chair.

He was also born with a curved spine and as a child spent several years wearing a metal frame to reset his back.

“The [medical] staff were just brilliant. The nurses, the doctors, they would kind of combine kindness and competence in a way that really, really impressed me.

“I wanted to combine care and competence and hopefully this is what we’re doing here,” he added.

The 44-year-old began experimenting in 2006 when he tried to grow chairs on two small plots of land in the Peak District, also in central England.

But in 2012, a year after they married, Gavin and Alice set up the company Full Grown and committed to the idea full-time.

Progress has been bumpy. One of their first attempts at a crop ended in disaster when it was trampled by cows and eaten by rabbits.

They have also had to discover the most effective way to shape a tree without stunting its growth.

The average chair takes six to nine years to grow — and another year to dry out.

‘Something Novel’: Chinese Cafe Dyes Pups to Look Like Pandas

CHENGDU, China (Reuters) – Would you like your dog transformed into a panda?

It takes just 1,500 yuan ($212.28) at a pet café in southwest China that dyes pups in black and white streaks to resemble the animal that is considered a national treasure.

The cafe, which opened last month in the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province, has been publicized online all over the world after owner Lu Yunning dyed his six chow-chow puppies to look like pandas.

“There are many dog cafes, cat cafes, raccoon cafes, alpaca cafes and duck cafes,” said Lu, as the puppies, their limbs, ears and fur around the eyes dyed black, playfully chased a fish toy on a cord.

“We think they are not creative. We wanted something novel,” added the 21-year-old, who estimates his cafe draws 70 to 80 customers a day.

Lu said the imported dye he used did not harm the dogs, and was spread only on the upper part of their fur, rather than extending down to the base.

To round out the vacation experience, the Candy Planet Pet Cafe also offers washing and hotel services.

The attention drawn by the chow-chows has not all been positive, however, with animal rights group PETA urging people to keep away.

“Coating dogs with chemical dyes is stressful and can even cause allergic reactions on their skin, nose, and eyes,” Jason Baker, its Asia vice president, told Reuters.

“PETA urges travelers to stay away from any business that exploits animals for a money-grabbing gimmick,” he said in a statement.