• Slow Furniture

    Peter “Pook” Cook sits in a chair he planted in 1998 and has been shaping and tending ever since.

    Here’s a short riff on the merits of what you might call slow furniture, which will circle back to the origins of the remarkable creation above.
    In “The Rational Optimist,” one of the most helpfully provocative books I’ve read in years, Matt Ridley lays out the argument against Henry David Thoreau’s romantic vision of the boy making a pocket knife from scratch coming out ahead of a boy getting one as a present. Ridley insists that self sufficiency, which is utterly inefficient, is not the route to prosperity.
    He is right, of course, that specialization allows me to do what I do best and trade for or buy things that others make best and most cost effectively.
    But once the basics are covered – a roof, food, limits to risk – there is a different kind of prosperity that comes through making things on your own, even pretty badly, as in my case. Some of the things I cherish most are objects I built, or rebuilt, in the roughest way. One is a 1949 Gibson SJ guitar that I bought for $35 when I was 17.
    The catch?
    It looked like it had had an “El Kabong” moment in a bar fight. My father, seeing 35 wasted dollars, threatened to throw it away if I didn’t fix it that summer. I did, and I’m still playing it.
    The best case in point is our kitchen table, which is rough-hewn and roughly assembled but still took me nearly three years to complete given other obligations:

    But the chair above, which took more than a decade to grow, rather than build, has to be the new paragon in the field of slow furniture. The piece makes my table seem like some assembly-line Ikea item. The chair is part of a line of painstakingly-grown furnishings — some left living and others harvested — crafted by Peter “Pook” Cook and Betty Northey through their business, called Pooktre Tree Shapers, based on Australia’s Fraser Island, not far from Brisbane.
    The excellent Inhabitat green design blog led me to their work. Mother Nature Network has more on Pooktre offerings and six other examples of living furniture.
    What project do you have under way that fits in the category where time and efficiency are secondary to peace of mind and a sense of making something out of something less?

    read more:http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/20...low-furniture/