GO WITH THE GRAIN

The Peak (Malaysia) - - The Peak Expert - TEXT MERYL KOH & ADELINE LOH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DARREN CHANG ART DI­REC­TION NORSHAM HUSAINI

Even with the in­tro­duc­tion of new ma­te­ri­als for fur­ni­ture de­sign, wood holds its own. For a time­less ma­te­rial, wood is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­tem­po­rary re­vival. With grow­ing global in­ter­est in craft, col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween tra­di­tional crafts­men and de­sign­ers are on the rise, mak­ing wood the ma­te­rial to watch. From the tra­di­tional wood­work­ing en­claves of Asia, to the in­dus­trial work­shops of Brook­lyn, a new gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers is cel­e­brat­ing wood in all its nat­u­ral glory.

Even in the world of mod­ern de­signer fur­ni­ture, wood has held its own against con­tem­po­rary coun­ter­parts like plas­tic and steel. Michael Thonet’s iconic bent­wood chair, one of his­tory’s most suc­cess­ful masspro­duced prod­ucts, paved the way for an era of demo­cratic de­sign. Since the early 20th cen­tury, de­sign­ers have long hailed the virtues of mod­ern wood-based ma­te­ri­als like ply­wood and ve­neers, mak­ing wood ac­ces­si­ble to a wider pop­u­la­tion. Some of the most iconic pieces of the 20th cen­tury, like the Eames Molded Ply­wood Chairs, cel­e­brate wood’s ca­pac­ity to be bent and shaped into sump­tu­ous pieces.

An age-old ma­te­rial, wood has never lost its ap­peal. But its unique qual­i­ties are per­haps in­creas­ingly rel­e­vant to­day. Mal­leable, strong, light­weight and, more cru­cially, re­new­able, wood is the sus­tain­able ma­te­rial of choice for our eco-con­scious world. Its sim­plic­ity and nat­u­ral­ness ful­fils a mod­ern need to be closer to na­ture.

And as tra­di­tional wood­work­ing skills be­come in­creas­ingly rare, the ap­peal, and value, of own­ing a unique piece of hand­crafted fur­ni­ture has only grown. Wood con­tin­ues to bring forth a world of fas­ci­nat­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, be it ex­press­ing the del­i­cacy of Ja­panese cy­press, the un­pre­dictable grain of suar or the op­u­lence of Euro­pean wal­nut. Here’s more on the ma­te­rial.

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