Wood you?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am

Whether it's in a canopy bed made from a huge hollowed-out chunk of birch, or chairs made of purple-tinted poplar in an unusual X-shape, wood is making a statement throughout the home, and in innovative ways.

As the trend towards modernity in interiors shows no sign of abating, furniture designers are returning to the stalwart that is wood, but rendering it in ways that turn heads.

Jesse Doquilo, owner of Modern Object (www.momodern.com) in Seattle, has created the xlounge - basically a lounge chair with an attached side table - which can be used indoors or out. The piece, carved from walnut, canary wood or teak, features a built-in magazine nook. Doquilo has also made a Hidey Table (a poplar table that hugs the wall; far right) and Intersect, a low table made from walnut, Brazilian cherry or Philippine mahogany, which stretches across a room and can be used as slender seating or to set items on.

The trend towards wood in home spaces echoes the move towards environmentally friendly and sustainable decor. New Zealand-based British designer David Trubridge (www.davidtrubridge.com) says on his website that he likes to 'work within the limits of what I have and know, simplicity and low impact, natural materials and processes, leaving a delicate footprint'. That translates into hanging lamps (carved from hoop pine plywood) that look like snowflakes, or canoe-like rocking recliners made from woods such as ash, tatajuba (a Brazilian wood) or teak - again designed for indoor or outdoor use.

The resurgence of wood in these new forms is an international trend, having popped up at the recent furniture fairs in Milan and Cologne, and being employed by designers around the globe. Studio Bility in Iceland (www.bility.is) has produced a table, called Inner Beauty, made of laser-cut plywood, its centre a sprawl of carved flowers. Cabinets called Flatpack Antiques look papery-thin, an illusion enhanced by the cut-outs at the bottom.

In San Francisco recently, an entire show was dedicated to wooden pieces for the home. Standouts included Rosie Hanna's stocky C-shaped table, a wooden cube featuring a large, curved, cut-out centre. Fellow-designer Courtney Skott created a large canopy bed from a massive wooden cube, and also featured a red-dyed wooden screen arranged in an intriguing houndstooth pattern.

Czech designer Ladislav Czernek has a smooth, sleek desk (above) - carved from a single piece of rosewood - on view at the Twentieth furniture store in Los Angeles. Czernek, now based in LA, specialises in custom woodworking with a modern edge.

Hiroshima-based furniture company Maruni Wood Industries has put out a collection of a dozen wooden chairs by 12 designers who go by the name Nextmaruni (www.nextmaruni.com). The chairs are compact and, in keeping with Zen-like Japanese design principles, set out to synthesise form and function.

Some of these pieces have a certain tongue-in-cheek quality. New York architect and designer Nick Dine created the F.U. line - an acronym for function and utility - which are sold through stores such as Dune in New York. The collection consists of four- and two-drawer dressers, side and coffee tables and an AV unit (far left), all made of wood and given a slick of brilliantly coloured high gloss on top.