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With the effects of global warming and man made pollution taking centre stage in recent years, designers are finding ways to change their manufacturing processes to lessen their impact on the environment. One such designer is Moisés Hernández who, in the production of his Grana chairs, has replaced ecologically harmful synthetic paints with a dye made from insects. 

These maple wood chairs appear simple in line and form but stand out because of their vibrant colouring which is made from a traditional pigment of dried and pulverised cochineal bugs, a technique that was used to dye fabrics in Mexico as far back as 2000 BCE when indigenous people in the state of Oaxaca started to cultivate female cochineal parasites that live on cactiWhen the insects are dried, crushed and boiled, the carminic acid they contain creates a deep crimson pigment called carmine. The use of carmine helps to reduce the demand for synthetic dyes, many of which are petroleum-based.

Hernández has adapted the technique for use in furniture. He sourced the pigment from a traditional producer in Oaxaca and used a similar technique one that was historically used to dye fabrics. The chairs are dipped in a mixture of hot water and the natural pigment. The resulting shades can range from bright red and orange to purple and pink depending on the pH of the dye, the length of time the piece is immersed, the temperature of the dye bath and the concentration of the dye as the colour turns orange with the addition of acid, while a more alkaline solution takes on a deep purple. Steps were also taken to minimise the amount of water used in the process.

Moisés Hernández

Grana chairs come in two versions: vibrant magenta and a colour-blocked version which features all six dyes and is designed to show off the variety of different finishes that can be created using this special technique.

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