When Decorex first asked me to write a guest post and told me that the theme for this year’s event is design heritage, I was pretty excited at the prospect of deciding what exactly I should write about. However, it didn’t really take me all that long to decide on a topic. In recent months, I have started to take note of the wealth of great modern furniture that is being produced in wood. Now this is nothing new of course, furniture has been crafted from wood for centuries and it has always been a popular choice as far as materials go. But I can’t help but feel that just recently there has been a renewed appreciation for wood as a material, both by designers and by the general public.
Maybe I’m wrong and beautifully crafted modern wooden furniture has always been this popular, but it seems to me that the wealth of innovative and exciting new materials available to the design community led to wood falling slightly out of favour for a good many years. And the same goes for production methods. With technological advances providing so many more opportunities for innovation in manufacturing, the ease with which new and man-made materials could be used meant that wood had far more competition from other materials, often with new and improved properties.
Now I’m not going to pretend that I can pinpoint a definite reason for the renewed appeal of wood, but a while back I interviewed Victoria Redshaw, Lead Trend Forecaster at Scarlet Opus, and she predicted that we would see a new kind of minimalism. She believed that post financial crisis, our lust for constant and rapid newness would be replaced by a more meaningful love of the special, the unusual, the rare, the cleverly and considerately designed, and the long-lasting. Redshaw identified a trend that she referred to as ’Hunter Gatherer’. She said that this trend communicates authenticity and simplicity at a time of mistrust. 'Designers will revisit and reinvent old crafts and skills to present new levels of rawness as they celebrate the beauty of natural materials.'
I have certainly noticed a great deal of furniture that I would say falls into this category and I would like to share a few examples of this with you. I first spotted the work of American furniture designer Geoffrey Keating at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show back in March and I was immediately taken by the care, craftsmanship and consideration that Keating invests in each and every handmade piece. I ended up majorly coveting the Wharton High desk.
Wharton High desk
Another of my favourite designers at the moment is Nico Yekai. I interviewed him over on my blog recently and he told me how art and design are intimately entwined in his work and he can’t separate them. In his sculptural pieces he mismatches grain and separates the boards by shifting the joint thereby using structural elements to introduce spontaneity. His beautiful furniture pieces are lovingly hand-crafted in the Hamptons.
Nico Yekai's wall-hung console table
A designer who excels in the art of woodworking is Joseph Walsh whose creative approach reflects his appreciation of nature and also his desire to engage the user with visual and tactile forms. The self-taught designer maker creates one of a kind and limited edition pieces that employ wood in new and innovative ways. The organic form of the Enigma Low Table is a sight to behold.
Spyder glass-topped dining table
Exhibiting this year at Decorex is Paul Case Furniture, a Lincolnshire-based company that works with the highest quality FSC sourced hardwoods to create the most exquisite furniture that really stands the test of time. Everything is handmade using traditional cabinet making skills and it is clear to see that every individual piece is lovingly crafted to the highest possible standard.
I was recently at New Designers Part 2 and I am happy to report that there was no shortage of young designers working with wood in exciting and innovative ways. It makes me extremely happy to see that craftsmanship and the skill of woodworking is still very much the order of the day.
Stacey Sheppard is a freelance writer who specializes in interior design. She has written for a number of publications & websites including Designer Kitchen & Bathroom magazine, World Interiors News, Heart Home Magazine & Freshome. She also writes her own blog at staceysheppard.com which was recently identified as being one of the top ten interior design blogs in the UK by media monitoring agency Cision.