How green can your outdoor furniture get? Sure, you can buy recycled plastic lawn chairs, loungers with renewable bamboo frames and cushions covered with reclaimed burlap sacks, but nothing has taken the word ‘green’ more literally than this product.
‘Terra!’ is a flat-pack, biodegradable and recyclable cardboard framework developed by an Italy-based collective of designers. Designed to be set on just about any earthen surface, filled with soil and planted with grass seeds, it results in a surprisingly ergonomic and comfortable seat that ultimately becomes integrated into the landscape.
Originally designed in 2000 and sold commercially through 2005, the Terra! grass armchair features notched cardboard framework elements that are quick and easy to assemble. The project got lots of attention for its clever design and sold out around the world, but its creators ran into some production hiccups and the chair was taken off the market.
On the internet, however, the idea lived on, and prospective customers often contacted the Studio Nucleo design collective hoping to make a purchase. In fact, it was an enthusiastic letter from a fan that encouraged them to look into reviving the grassy chair.
Thankfully, a lot of things have changed in the way products are made in the last decade, placing manufacturing capabilities directly in the hands of designers. That gave Studio Nucleo another chance to get Terra! out into the world. Studio Nucleo no longer has to rely on bigger companies to help create and distribute its product, and the company has made some tweaks to the design that enables an even smoother shipping and assembly process.
This summer, the company turned to Kickstarter to fund a whole new round of production integrating modern laser-cutting technology for precision and consistency. The whole thing packs up as slim as a flattened cardboard box.
The campaign was a smashing success, surpassing its funding goal, and the first backer rewards are set to ship in October 2016 before the product is officially available for sale to the public.
To celebrate, Studio Nucleo expanded the product range beyond the original armchair. New offerings include a mini cushion, kids chair, a miniature for gardens and terrariums, a two-seater sofa, a three-seater sofa and even site-specific installations, like a long curving sofa big enough for a group.
The concept is so simple, it’s a wonder we don’t see similar modified grassy mounds more often. Once you see the Terra! in action, it’s easy to envision everything from complete living room setups to stadium seating made primarily of earth and covered in grasses or durable sedum. The framework could easily be replicated on a larger scale, conserving resources and eliminating a whole lot of waste.
“Design products are made to be used, and disposed,” says Studio Nucleo. “TERRA! instead is a living product, it grows as a tree grows. As the world around you grows, so does your Terra! To take care of TERRA! you don’t have to be a designer, an architect or an artist. The pleasure of TERRA! is not only found in its ‘functionality.’ It is also found in the making of your own place to relax, growing a piece of nature, a place where we can all experience the peace.”