Design

Material Matters: The Warmth of Wood

September 27, 2017

Actor and avid canoe builder Nick Offerman once said, “How lucky my life is that I have two arms, and two legs, and ten fingers with which to make things out of wood.” Such dedication to this organic, flexible, and renewable material is nothing new. Wood has been a favorite of architects, builders, and designers for millennia. Technically speaking, it’s cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin. Unlike metals and plastics, wood is versatile, structural stuff that can be grown. Plant a seed or acorn, wait a few decades, and you can build yourself a house, a ship, or a cuckoo clock. From ancient Japanese temples to the flowing furniture of Scandinavian modernism, wood inspires an amazing variety of design. Not surprisingly, you’ll find it in many corners of our collection, where makers draw out its inviting qualities to infuse their work with natural beauty. Thanks, trees!

Jewelry might not be the first thing you think of when you think wood, but Henry Wischusen’s cuff showcases two of its natural qualities: flexibility and color. Intertwined bands of cherry, maple, and African rosewood create a wonderful, wearable homage to hardwood. Henry’s cuff is a prominent part of our Uncommon Collection. | Trinity Wood Cuff 

Wood is susceptible to wear and tear—scuffs, dings, and hardware holes. Deal breaker? We don’t think so. Made from timber salvaged from old European buildings, Stacy Borocz’s cookbook stand celebrates the beauty of wood that’s been around the block a few times. | Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

You wouldn’t want to take a bite of it, but oak is beloved of distillers because it imparts flavor to spirits through three main compounds: Lignin, which adds vanillin for vanilla and marzipan-like flavors, lactones, which give rise to buttery, coconut notes, and tannins, which add astringent, spicy flavors. This personalized barrel lets those woody essences work their flavorful magic on your favorite whiskey. | Personalized Whiskey Barrel

Wood doesn’t have to be elaborately worked to bring intrigue to your decor. Exhibit A: this table made from reclaimed pallets. Both the top and legs are crafted from cleverly cut pallet sections for a unified design that celebrates the industrial imperfections of the material. | Recycled Wood Crate Table

Sometimes, successful woodworking is a roll of the dice. William Manke’s dice show the face value of each side with one to six segments of different color tones cleverly composed of walnut, maple, and cherry wood. If you’re tired of traditional pips, you’re in luck. | Genius Dice

This power play of a chair design uses wood from two very different sources: the forest, and the hockey rink. Laminated birch hockey sticks retired from play form the back and seat, while the rest is contrasting Canadian cedar. The resulting design is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and count your remaining teeth. | Hockey Stick Rockers

Trees can never lie about their age. Their annual growth rings tell the tale of how long they’ve been around. Lisa Lewis’ print celebrates the shape of a tree’s cross-section by capturing its subtle swirls in ink on paper (also made from wood, by the way). This tree added five decades worth of rings before it was sacrificed in the name of art. 50 never looked so good. | Ancestor Tree Ring Print

Ok, so it’s not wood per se, but bamboo—a member of the grass family—is giving wood a run for its money. From a building material to clothing fiber, bamboo is strong, versatile, and best of all, super-renewable. That’s where it has hardwood beat: As a grass, bamboo regrows after cutting and matures quickly, growing up to a meter a day! So these geographic cutting boards help combat deforestation while they serve snacks with hometown pride—win/win. | USA & State Serving Boards

The world loves things made with wood so much that it even embraces fake wood wares. Like most things said in French, faux bois sounds more sophisticated, so let’s go with that. Laurel Begley crafts an intricate texture inspired by the winding furrows in a tree’s bark, shaping each “trunk” out of thick stoneware in her sweetly personalized vase. Wood you? I do. | Personalized Faux Bois Vase

When you think of cork, you probably think of wine stoppers and bulletin boards. But this amazing material can be used for much more—from watch straps to umbrellas. Wood? Again, not exactly. It’s actually bark harvested from cork oaks (Quercus suber) that grow primarily in Portugal. This interactive globe crafted from cork lets you pin and spin through your worldwide adventures. | Cork Globe

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1 Comment

  • Reply James Niehaus October 2, 2017 at 11:58 am

    These are some great woodworking projects! Love the whiskey barrel idea, that is going to be my next venture 🙂

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