Wood's beauty and versatility

Wood's beauty and versatility

Used extensively within the building, interior design and furniture design industries, wood is well known for its strength, beauty and durability. Common uses include, but are not limited to, flooring, furniture and house framing. Using wood also helps to tackle climate change. One of the main ways it does this is by storing carbon.

‘Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and they store that carbon. So efficiently, in fact, that about half the dry weight of wood is carbon. This carbon remains locked up for the life span of the wood, even when we use it for building things like homes and furniture. The carbon is only released when the wood is burned or rots. Wood stored in a landfill, under anaerobic conditions, can last for hundreds if not thousands of years. It stores that carbon the whole time.’
(The Ultimate Renewable, 2022)

When compared to other building and furniture materials, wood also uses less energy in the harvesting, transporting and manufacturing process. Plus, it’s a naturally occurring resource, being able to be planted over and over again and managed for regrowth. With a wide selection of timber species available, wood also offers an extremely pleasant aesthetic appeal. Availability includes solid timber, engineered timber and veneer.

// SOLID TIMBER. Cut and milled straight from the tree in length form, solid wood has a large range of timber species available, each graded in terms of strength and durability. The strength of timber is described in terms of ‘stress grades.’ A stress grade is defined in the AS1720.2 SAA Timber Structures Code. Grades are S1 to S7, with S1 being the strongest. Durability is graded with classes 1 to 4. Class 1 timbers have the highest level of natural durability and are expected to be resistant to decay and termite attack for at least 25 years. Typical uses include solid hardwood flooring and furniture.

// ENGINEERED TIMBER. Comprises of a decorative surface layer of timber (called a veneer or lamella) bonded over a timber substrate. Engineered timber generally comes pre-finished and ready to install, in particular for flooring, when compared to solid timber which typically comes as a raw product, requiring sanding and polishing. Compared to some lower grad hardwoods, engineered timber can be less susceptible to warping due to the bonding and construction process.

// VENEER. After the bark is removed from the tree log, veneer is made by taking thin slices of the wood. This is done either by rotating the log and taking off a thin, continuous slice as it spins, or by having the log run back and forth over a blade to produce thin slices. Veneer has many applications, and is an extremely versatile material due to it’s ability to be heated and shaped into shapes and curves, such as seating on a chair. The use of veneer grew in popularity in the 1940s when Ray and Charles Eames started to experiment with the product extensively. Charles is famously known for the Eames Chair and Ottomon design, one of my favourite pieces and still available today. (shown in the below 1949 photograph)

Ray and Charles Eames house interior, showing Eames chair

Eames Office, An ultimate design trinity - the house, the chair, the Eameses. 1949, Photograph. Reproduced from: Koenig (2015, 37).



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