Wood is perhaps one of the world’s truly ‘honest’ materials, striving neither to manipulate nor make unfathomable promises. Wood has an integrity, clarity and depth that often sets it apart within a design context. Simple and clean, wood’s qualities are refined and pure, its application suited to many environments and genres. With wood there is a certain neutrality and restraint that allows the user to interpret its use in his or her own way. It has a holistic relevance and utility that cannot be overlooked in architectural discourse.
Woodworking is a timeless and beautiful craft, often imbued with passion and the pursuit of quality, where creativity and manufacturing unite. Seasoned wood craftsmanship will inevitably result in good design, when handiwork, technique and expertise are skilfully carried out. Using different timbers, the craftsman is able to form a real connection with this raw and tactile material to produce wood designs that are simple and clean. With wood there is an inescapable notion where working hard equates to living well.
In wood there is often a pragmatic and useful purpose that sits alongside an aesthetic disposition. In a rural setting, wood has the capacity to add a level of elegance paired with rusticity that is difficult for other materials to compete with. Modern production techniques work to improve wood’s durability, its fire resistance and usefulness. As such we see wood featured at an increasing rate in building projects, both in its natural state and in an engineered form. Whether organic or machine-engineered, the warmth and simplicity of wood represents longevity and sustainability when living with design.
Wood continues to be as popular today as ever and its possible applications are numerous, ranging from the construction of an entire home to adding interiors features that are practical and/or warming. Its multi-functional uses can be found in: doors, floors, skirting, frames, cills, lintels, ceilings, wall partitions (panelled and un-panelled) and staircases.
With its unlimited timbers, textures, patterns, grains, natural, painted and stained colours, wood has a significant role to play in the home. It will age beautifully through the years, maturing, becoming darker or lighter, adding charm and character. Wood also tells the story of a home, from those adze imprints left by a craftsman to the craggy timbers that have stood the test of time, wear and tear.
Depending on the type of wood used and the context, wooden fixtures and fittings can help to dictate a home’s environment, such as traditional versus rustic and midcentury versus modern. Used in conjunction with materials such as concrete, glass, metal and stone, wood will add a beautiful homey feel. In her book “Modern Country”, author Caroline Clifton-Mogg considers wood to act as a “soft-spoken peace-maker” when combined with harder materials.
The malleability of wood, its sustainable properties, traditional values, solidity, warmth and honesty, will ensure it continues to find favour in architecture and interiors. Handmade, rustic, imperfect, whatever its features, wood is at home in a rustic country cottage as it is in a contemporary city loft apartment.
Clifton-Mogg, C. (2014) Modern Country: Inspiring Interiors for Contemporary Country Living. London: Jacqui Small LLP.