Innovation in the Chia-Chair, Made for Plants First and Humans Second

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The ‘Chia-Chair’, an inventive piece of furniture designed by Alice Hultqvist, Emelie Sjöberg, and Linnea Nilsson from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, has captured the attention of designers and horticulturists alike. This curious creation was recently shown at the Stockholm Furniture Fair’s Greenhouse section, an area dedicated to up-and-coming designers and innovative ideas. Why does it stand out? Not only for its unique aesthetics but for its underlying philosophy that redefines people’s relationship with nature and more!

The Chia-Chair Has a Design That Serves as a Planting Bed for Chia Seeds

The Chia-Chair emerges from a profound shift in design thinking that prioritizes the integration of nature into everyday objects. Instead of focusing solely on human comfort, the designers have envisioned a chair that accommodates and nurtures plant life. This approach challenges conventional furniture design and offers a fresh perspective on how people can coexist with nature within their living spaces.



The designers, Hultqvist, Sjöberg, and Nilsson all drew inspiration from the idea of creating a living piece of furniture. They aimed to blend the natural growth processes of plants with the structural and functional aspects of a chair. The result is a piece that evolves over time, as the plants grow and change, making each chair unique.

The trio said:

“The plant is the primary user of Chia-Chair and humans are only temporary visitors. The seating furniture becomes its own entity that not only assumes but demands respect from the user.”


Details of the Chia Chair
Chia seeds sprouting in the Chia-Chair


Design and Materials Used to Bring the Chia-Chair to Life

The Chia-Chair features a frame made from ash wood, chosen for its durability and natural aesthetic. This sturdy frame supports a cushion that deviates significantly from traditional designs. Instead of foam or fabric, the cushion is a knitted and knotted tube filled with chia seeds. This innovative cushion serves as a planting bed, allowing the seeds to germinate and grow directly on the chair. The chia seeds were mixed with water before being planted inside. The designers watered them twice a day and placed a plastic cover on the chair overnight to retain the moisture.


The curious design of the Chia Chair


The designers came up with the concept after thinking about the negative impact that humans have had on the planet, prioritizing our own needs before anything else.

“Over the past century, humanity has exerted control over natural resources and non-human life forms.”

The use of wool for the cushion not only provides a suitable environment for the seeds to sprout but also adds a tactile, organic feel to the chair. The knitted structure of the cushion ensures that it is porous enough to retain moisture, essential for the chia seeds to thrive. As the plants grow, they green up the chair, covering it and transforming it into a living, breathing piece of furniture.


Chia Chair by Swedish design students


Functionality and Aesthetic of the Project

While the primary focus of the Chia-Chair is on the plants, it does not completely disregard human comfort. The designers intended the design as a statement rather than a functional piece, although they do believe that greenery will become more prevalent in homes and workplaces in the future. This interaction is intentional, encouraging users to engage with the natural world more intimately and directly.


Sprouting of chia seeds


The aesthetic appeal of the Chia-Chair lies in its ever-changing nature. As the plants grow, and eventually wither, the chair’s appearance transforms. It brings a piece of the garden indoors, blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces.

Impact and Reception of the Chia-Chair

The Chia-Chair has been well-received in the design community for its originality and thought-provoking concept. It aligns with the growing trend of biophilic design, which seeks to incorporate natural elements into built environments to enhance well-being and connection to nature. By prioritizing plant life, the Chia-Chair challenges traditional notions of furniture design and proposes a new way of thinking about everyone’s relationship with the natural world.


Side view of the chair in Stockholms Furniture Fair


The chair also sparks conversations about sustainability and the role of design in promoting ecological awareness. By creating a piece of furniture that supports plant growth, the designers highlight the importance of integrating sustainable practices into design processes.


Photos by Stockholm Furniture Fair

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