Monday, September 20, 2010

Ellipse II Table - The Bamboo Experiment

In a previous post I described the creative process behind the Ellipse II Table.

Given how beautiful this turned out to be, I began to consider other materials for custom made alternatives. One of the materials that came to mind was bamboo.

Bamboo has been available to custom furniture makers in veneer and plywood form for a number of years. It's use as a "green" material, however, has not been without questions and controversy.

In simple terms bamboo is considered a sustainable alternative to wood because bamboo is actually a grass and not a wood. Ironically, as demand for bamboo has grown many forests in south-east Asia have ended up being cut down to make way for bamboo plantations. This reality can hardly be interpreted as protective of trees and forests.

In addition there have been many questions about herbicide and pesticide use on these plantations, as well as the use of urea formaldehyde glues in the making of bamboo ply. And this doesn't negate other questions having to do with issues of fair labour practices in the growing, harvesting and processing of bamboo as a material.

In recent years these issues have been addressed with the introduction of FSC certification to the bamboo marketplace.

Given this availability of FSC certified bamboo that is also NAUF and CARB2 compliant I decided in early 2010 to prototype a custom made version of the Ellipse II Table crafted exclusively from carbonized bamboo plywood.

The sculpted cone base was made from stacked laminated bamboo ply sheeting that was milled and sanded to achieve its final shape. The top was made from a full sheet of bamboo ply, with the corner offcuts being used to make the built up aprons for the undercut bevel edge.

All surfaces were then sanded and rubbed in a low-VOC natural linseed oil finish. A scale model prototype of this table is shown below:

This table was unveiled at the Green Living Show in Toronto in April, 2010. It was during this show that its "green" credibility was put to the test when a woman suddenly dropped to her hands and knees to crawl around and sniff every exposed surface of the table.

When I asked what she was doing she said she was smelling for urea formaldehydes and VOCs. It turns out there were none to be found, and we apparently received the "green" housekeeping 'sniff of approval'.

Sustainable, Environmental, Eco Lifestyles, Healthy, All Natural, Home and Garden, Interior Design, Eco Friendly, Green Furniture, Green Furnishings, Green Designs, FSC Certified, Reclaimed Materials. Organic, LEED compliant, NAUF. CARB2, Bamboo, Natural Fibers. Non-Toxic, low-VOC, Non VOC, Natural Finishes.

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