Land art doubles as lawn furniture with Terra, a “grass armchair” that grows from seeds and soil in a cardboard frame. Designed by Andrea Sanna and Piergiorgio Robino of Turin, Italy-based Studio Nucleo, it’s a vision of what seating might look like in a sustainable outdoor living room of the future.
Terra’s designers were motivated by what they see as a need for a more eco-friendly approach to design and manufacturing. The process of manufacturing wooden chairs, for example, takes a toll on the environment: it tends to waste wood, as well as energy for factories and shipping. Terra, on the other hand, cancels out any carbon footprint associated with its shipment by adding more greenery to the world.
Nucleo also wanted to bridge the distance between contemporary consumers and manufacturing processes. “Which is the best way to learn about an object? Surely to construct it,” they write. “There is no greater form of intimacy with an object than to be its creator.”
While some assembly is required for this sculptural green seat, there are no screws or tools involved—instead, building it is more like tending to a chia pet you can sit on. You unfold a flatpack frame, made of intersecting pieces of laser cut cardboard, fill its spaces with soil, sprinkle grass seeds on top, and let nature take its course. Designers liken the process to “building a nest.” Soon, it grows into a grassy armchair-shaped hill, like something out of Hobbiton.
The design itself is not new — the Terra! Grass Armchair was first introduced at Milan Salone Satellite, a design show, in 2000. It’s since been sold and shown around the world: at the Pompidou Center in Paris in 2001, at the Milan Triennale in 2004, at Biennal of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 2012, and at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. But it hasn’t been accessible to the public since 2005 — the designers had been producing it themselves, but the process soon grew unsustainable.
This year, after receiving a letter from a fan who wanted to grow her own lawn chair, Studio Nucleo revised the designs, making them smaller and simpler to reproduce. They’ve also made a Terra sofa. To avoid manufacturing through big furniture companies, Nucleo is currently taking orders for Terra through Kickstarter. A small scale version of Terra goes for $100, full-size versions go for $218, and Terra sofas go for $425.
Terra! Grass Armchair by Studio Nucleo is currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter.