Artichoke Chair Responds to Peak Oil Production

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Friday, December 6th, 2013
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Artichair by Spyros Kizis
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A new designer has taken to the Mediterranean artichoke when looking for materials with which to create his latest piece.

University of Edinburgh graduate Spyros Kizis has constructed a simple bucket chair from artichoke thistle and a biological resin produced from cooking oil waste.

Kizis’ design – dubbed the Artichair – demonstrates an alternative to traditional plastics and anticipates the likely event that plastics will be hard to come by as the world’s oil production decelerates.

The chair’s aesthetic has been likened to that of the iconic Charles Eames dining chair with the artichoke material easily mouldable to create the modern design.

Artichair by Spyros Kizis

Artichair by Spyros Kizis

“Manufacturers have come to depend on oil derived plastics to produce many consumer products,” he said of his creation. “With the subsequent decline in oil production, increase in demand for oil and increase in cost of oil, not to mention the environmental concerns associated with oil derived plastics, shouldn’t we be exploring more alternatives?”

A study from the University of Maryland backs up Kizis’ contention that peak oil production will “likely occur before 2030 and has a pretty good chance of taking place before the end of this decade, after which it’s theoretically all downhill.”

The Artichair certainly demonstrates an opportunistic solution for the depleting resource. In addition, it is 100 per cent biodegradable and can also be used as an alternative for biofuel.

Artichoke Thistle

Artichoke thistle

The chair also represents an economic opportunity for Kizis’ native Greece and its struggling economy. With artichoke thistles plentiful in the country and throughout the Mediterranean region, the crop could become a higher monetary asset for farmers.

With an estimated 25 to 30 per cent waste produced by the furniture industry, renewable and biological materials demonstrate how design can be derived from the earth and its vegetation, produced locally and have minimal to zero impact on the environment.

For example, eco designer Adital Ela has taken to the soil itself to produce Terra, a series of three stools made from compressed earth and agricultural waste collected from an archaeological site in Jerusalem.

Terra Stools

Terra stools

In a TED talk earlier this year, Ela referred to Terra as living artefacts that require zero energy to produce. Since they are made from the earth, she said, they can be produced locally anywhere and bring a unique “sense and scent to every room.”

“When you’ve had enough, leave them in the garden, let them slowly melt down, break them down, mix them with water, remoulding them with water, any function, any forum you may desire,” she said.

Baltix, a commercial furniture business in Minneapolis, sells Nuxite – a collection of walnut shell slabs that can be used on counter tops, tables and other surfaces.

Walnuts are crushed to form the slabs, which are then coated with a formaldehyde free, zero-VOC resin which emits no fumes or toxins.

Mushroom Furniture

Mushroom furniture

Mushrooms have also been at the forefront of bio furniture design and have also been explored as an alternative to insulation and building materials.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia University students Merjan Tara Sisman and Brian McClellan created a prototype chair and pendant lights from the mycelium roots of mushrooms.

Such projects have taken green furniture design to another level, demonstrating design that can work to reduce resource depletion while offering furniture that is sustainably harvested and renewable.

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