Ukao Grass Furniture is a misleading name. There’s none of the green stuff growing from Gerard Minakawas first offering to the design world. So what gives?
Bamboo. It grows like grass—or more like a weed—which makes it one of the most sustainable building materials imaginable. When Minakawa first heard of bamboo flooring, something clicked. Bamboo is a design material.
“You can have geometric forms from it,” he realized. And, he says, “I’m interested in materials that are safe, that don’t require cutting down trees.” Hence was born the Yolanda line of chairs and tables.
Yolanda, named after Minakawa’s grandmother, is his flagship launch, and it has been a year in the making. Indeed, for those of you interested in process, the furniture is intriguing. At a thickness of 1.5 millimeters, Ukao bamboo is thin enough to qualify as a veneer. But unlike other laminated woods, it requires no steaming. It gets a dry bend in a hydraulic press, and even Minakawa was amazed by the feats he was able to perform during his first rendezvous with bamboo. It’s an amazement which he tries to express in the chairs’ forms, as well as by varying horizontal and vertical grains.