The use of reclaimed wood is fast becoming the hottest design trend for 2014 across the world and not just because of its more environmentally friendly. Previously used wood that’s been repurposed, particularly if it’s over a century old, has an inimitable patina that simply can’t be replicated with virgin wood.
Brooks Atwood, a New York design professor, explained that the current interest in all things vintage is behind the demand for reclaimed wood furniture.
‘It’s easier to create a heritage look with reclaimed wood and it’s much more sustainable than other materials, but reclaimed wood furniture also comes with a story, instilling it with a je ne sais quoi that glass, metal and manmade materials simply can’t match.’
Designers are trawling some unusual places to find wood, Atwood explained that he recently salvaged the remains of several demolished bowling alleys to fit an entirely wooden ceiling into a Los Angeles home. Hong Kong company Elmo use elm beams and doors from Chinese houses, US company Vinoture make bar stools and coat racks from French wine barrels, Australia’s Walk the Plank Collective use their hoard of wood from a shipwreck to create consoles, coffee tables and shelving whilst British company Mac+Wood create brushed steel and reclaimed wood dining tables inspired by a love for wood textures and appreciation of Apple Mac design and in the process creating a table that embodies the trend for mixing old and new.
Homeowners aren’t the only ones getting in on the reclamation act. Interior designer and architect Brad Friedmutter uses wood from oak barrels, railroad cars and barn siding to add warmth to super-chic restaurants and recreate authentic Irish pubs. His company has given the reclaimed wood treatment to Atlanitc City’s trump Taj Mahal, the Ritz Carlton and The Cosmopolitan in Los Angeles. According to Friedmutter, more and more commercial venues like hotels, bars and restaurants are using reclaimed wood in their design.
‘Reclaimed wood is often used as a contrast to a very contemporary steel and glass look in commercial buildings, just enough to warm it up without detracting from the up to the minute feel of the space.’
But simply bashing together a few bits of old wood does not make a stunning piece of reclaimed furniture. Today’s designers use all sorts of clever tricks to give their wood the desired ‘heritage’. Reclaimed timber is enhanced with the use of chains, oil, sanding, waxing, bleaching and various other treatments to instil it with the necessary qualities to sit comfortably in a modern space.
Bespoke furniture designer Yin Chiang believes that the current global drive to be greener will be a huge boost for the reclaimed wood industry.
‘The rustic look has always been popular, but nowadays people choose reclaimed wood for its green credentials too. As more and more people start to think about the environmental impact of everything they buy, there’ll be an even greater demand for reclaimed wood furniture.’