Imagine having a live bouquet in your home that is perpetually blooming. London designer Asif Khan has found a way to not only provide this anomaly, but also to offer it in the form of blooming furniture.
Commissioned by London’s Design Museum for the Designers in Residency Programme, Khan set to work creating furniture that would be especially meaningful for London residents. Oddly enough, his primary choice of materials did not include any woods, metals or plastics, but a flowering plant that grows wild in untended areas around London.
The plant is called Gypsophila. By using it Khan not only brought the familiar into the homes of London locals but also utilized astounding technological processes to pioneer a whole new avenue for interior design.
Naturally, the first problem Khan encountered was how to get the Gypsophila to stay live and looking fresh, long after it has been harvested. No one wants a chair made of dead flowers in their living room.
In order to make it over this hurdle, he went to Gunther von Hagens’s Institute for Plastination. Research there has made it possible to plastinate live tissue to allow its lifelike appearance to exist over time.
Basically the process includes taking live tissue that has yet to decompose and then strips the tissue of all water content. That moisture is immediately replaced by injecting polymers. The result is a material that is exceedingly lifelike in appearance but plastic to the touch and in durability.
The challenge for Khan, however, was in shortening the time span between collecting the plants and beginning the plastination process. He and his team of innovators were able to make the necessary amendments to their process, and the result was a new line of tables and chairs that look like London’s wild gardens in perpetual bloom.
Khan considers his Harvest Furniture pieces to be prototypes since there are still quite a few obstacles standing in the way of his process achieving mass-production capabilities. For the moment, it’s enough to have merely overcome the hurdle of being able to craft the pieces at all.
With these challenges in mind, Khan is pleased that his creative thinking has forged a new way to bring outdoor life into the home.
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