Bamboo is not wood. So why do designers treat it like it is? Too often they extrude the reeds into small pieces then glue them together into blocks, a labor-intensive process that ignores the grass’ unique natural properties, particularly its flexibility. ECCO Design principal Eric Chan noticed this and has created a lounge chair that busts notions of how to use bamboo. Created in partnership with Herman Miller, ECCO 9707 utilizes individually flexing bamboo slats in its seat and back to provide comfort and ergonomic support. Held in place by three horizontal polymer strips—two across the back and one across the seat—the reeds function like springs, bowing and cradling the body when pressed against, and bouncing back to their original place when pressure is let up. Only 15 of the chairs exist, unfortunately, as they were made for a special exhibit at the Hong Kong Design Centre. However, Chan is continuing to experiment with the material and the technology, hoping to apply it to a mass-produced product. You can see more production images of the chair, as well as read further about it, in my Metropolis article here.