Four hundred thousand years ago, someone turned a piece of wood into a spear; 400,000+ years later, we are still coming up with new ways to turn hardwood into groundbreaking innovations. Take a look at how hardwood culture is alive and thriving in the modern world.
American Hardwood Export Council
Hardwood art traces back to the beginning of art itself. Since then, artists throughout the globe have been innovating and pushing the limits of the medium. Marvel at vast examples of hardwood masterpieces that have shaped the world of art throughout time.
Up until now, Aaron Poritz, a young Brooklyn-based designer, has been best known for his expertly crafted, high-end hardwood furniture, particularly a collection of cabinets featuring superbly detailed tambour doors. Handmade and built-to-order in woods like black walnut and bleached oak, the credenzas, bars, desks, coffee tables, and other pieces find a balance between elegant simplicity, practical functionality, and striking innovation. But with “Big Woods,” an exhibition of seven witty new sculptural pieces at New York’s Cristina Grajales Gallery, Poritz pushes his work in an excitingly artful, almost surrealistic direction.
Irena Ventsislávova has created innovative and thought-provoking designs. Ventsislávova is interested in social design and showing the fascination within everyday things. Her product design, Cooplay, encourages imagination and aims for children to love the environment and eventually work to protect it. She used American Red Oak as the hardwood for her piece, which has a distinctive grain. Cooplay is designed for children and includes centers on the environment and its resources. Ventsislávova presents art that hopes for the betterment of society and the environment through future generations.
Husband and wife team, Laura and Rick Brown, have been collaborating since they met in 1970. They share a passion for making things and often do large-scale installations, They often use trees and nature in their work. Their focus on the large scale has led to them having many on-site installations in which their art tends to connect to the theme of life cycles. Their 2020 exhibition in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, was one of a kind. The idea was born two years prior, while they were artists-in-residence and often took walks in the forest. They had started to take photos and sketch the oaks, hemlocks, and other trees which they often encountered. The end result was an exhibition of sculptures that were interconnected and used materials like dead and fallen trees.
Designer and Professor, Stefano Santilli has worked and experimented with all sorts of found materials and challenges himself consistently to use different materials. In 2019 he collaborated with the American Hardwood Export Council and presented his work entitled “Work in Process” at Collect at the esteemed Saatchi Gallery in London, England. The work used a selection of various American Hardwoods like American red oak, American cherry, and American maple. Work in Process focuses on creation and is made of 8 American red oak, cherry and maple vessels attained through 3D scans of various objects. Santilli highlights his surprise in working with red oak as he hadn't used it before. He found it very easy to work with despite looking a bit rugged. The American Hardwood used for the project showcases the aesthetics of the hardwoods and the possibilities of use.
Since the beginning of time, wood has been deeply ingrained in our storytelling culture. From the medieval weapons of our favorite thrillers to the magical wands in our fantasy movies, wood plays a vital role in who we are, on and off the script.