Ideas for bamboo in furniture designs

Designer Markus Schell

We wanted to give you a few furniture ideas to help you see how you could incorporate bamboo into your designs and work flow. In this post we’ll look at the work of a furniture designer who has incorporated solid bamboo in their designs.

The designer we’ll be looking at is Markus Schell, a Berlin based German architect and founder of “Gesellschaft für Bessere Möbel” – “The Society for Better Furniture”.

Markus has stuck to a very efficient design method that translates very well into a cost effective manufacturing line. This allows him to exploit the benefits of an optimized cut list that standard sized boards allow. Once the boards are cut into the components, all that remains is the fitting and finishing.

By steering away from complex shapes, he has eliminated much of the need for expensive equipment from his production line. This kind of thinking translates directly into his bottom line.

This is what Markus has to say about bamboo:

Bamboo is not a wood, but ideal for furniture making: hard, elastic and smooth. It also fits perfectly with a society that wants to be sustainable – some varieties grow 30 centimeters a day.

Let’s have a look at a few of his designs …

Bamboo sideboard

Cubus Bamboo sideboard - in situCubus Bamboo sideboard - front doors openCubus Bamboo sideboard - side angle view

This is the first commentary we have done on sideboards. Markus seems to have focussed on a simple “box” type design and easy manufacturing for this bamboo sideboard range. It contains no shelving nor any drawers.

From a manufacturing perspective, this range is highly optimized to make maximum use of the bamboo board. The assembly is very straight forward with all the joining edges mitered at 45 degrees. Even the doors are mitered. Markus has also chosen to not add any handles to the design. I’m still trying to figure out how to open the doors, most likely a push button latch!

Bamboo beds

Bamboo bed - angled in situBamboo bed - close angled viewBamboo bed - front in situ

Staying true to his designs, Markus has applied his “box” technique to these two beds.

The manufacturing technique uses mitered edges. Mitering with bamboo is simple as it machines so cleanly. When manufacturing, one doesn’t have to worry about cutting through harder and softer parts of the timber or damage when cutting through knots.

Whilst the box design keeps the mattress firmly in place, the height of the edges may result in a few painful encounters on the shins.

Bamboo stools or side tables

Bamboo stool designBamboo stool - in situBamboo stacking stools

Notice the minimal bracing required in these stacking stools. Typically a mitered design like this would lack the strength required of a stool or side table.

Bamboo Table

Bamboo work table - side viewBamboo work table - left side angel viewBamboo work table - side view

Taking advantage of bamboo’s inherent stability, Markus has created a very “open” feel to this table design. One interesting note is the way that he has placed the corners of the legs on the inside. This leaves extra room for chairs and leg space whilst keeping the design stable.

Markus’ designs are very clean and easy to manufacture. I would like to see Markus moving onto other variations of bamboo if he considers expanding his range. There are the strand woven and vertical grain varieties that I think would be better suited to his designs.

There are a few simple lessons to be learnt from Markus;

  • The inherent tensile strength of bamboo boards allows the designer to experiment with thinner designs
  • Bamboo is great to miter due to it’s predictable machine-ability – this allows the designer to experiment with extending the grain around corners.
  • The strength and stability of the vertically cross laminated structure allows for expansive surfaces in the design
  • The fit and finish nature of the bamboo boards keep the manufacturing time and steps to an absolute minimum in these simple designs. This allows for lower manufacturing overheads and a quick time to market when your design is popular.

Next up … we’ll look at some other furniture designers and see how they have used bamboo in their designs.

 

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About Oriental Bamboo Team

We only deal in Solid Bamboo Timber Products - boards, counter tops, plywood panels and doors - nothing else.
  
Through extensive manufacturing research and experience, we specify our products at our factories to perform well in our diverse African climatic zones.
  
Being solid bamboo pioneers in Southern Africa, we have worked with users in all facets of timber application over the years.
 
We are driven to understand our customers specific requirements. As a result of these relationships with our varied clients, we have accumulated a lot of experience in using solid bamboo products wherever one would traditionally use timber.
  
This blog documents a few of our experiences and comments on various aspects of solid bamboo timber as used in various applications.
  
Cape Town based Oriental Bamboo is a bulk bamboo timber supplier of "specified for Southern Africa": bamboo boards, bamboo plywood panels, solid and hollow core bamboo doors via a network of timber merchants in South Africa and sub Saharan Africa.

Comments

  1. danny green says:

    terrific post! fantastic designs. Am really excited to see the future use of bamboo materials in our living environment.

    But what concerns me is the price for some of these items. Why is it only expensive european designers who are experimenting with modern Booterial?

    Do you have any asian made supplier options which are more affordable?

    • Hi Danny,

      Bamboo boards and panels are a manufactured product. When compared to solid timber that has been similarly prepped (including curing, wastage, labour and all other manufacturing costs), bamboo is very competitively priced.

      Think of bamboo boards as having cut out two thirds of you production line. Then compare costs from that point to the finished product.

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