The popularity of live edge furniture made from reclaimed wood slab lumber is on the rise in commercial office space design. And no wonder. Each piece of live edge furniture is a unique piece of art, made from a one-of-a-kind piece of wood expertly crafted to highlight the natural characteristics of the reclaimed wood slab, including the unique natural grain, knots, voids, and surface imperfections.
The Natural Wood Trend is IN: Live Edge Furniture Brings the Feel of Nature Inside the Office
Natural wood is having a moment in today’s commercial office environments.
The recycling movement known as “upcycling” might be stoking the wood design trend; for example, have you noticed the increasing use of rough-sawn barn doors (using highly visible overhead rails) used in both commercial and residential interiors?
Another possible explanation is a renewed fascination with wood and its properties as a material. After all, wood is a uniquely sustainable and environmentally-friendly material (when harvested responsibly) that reconnects us with the natural world, while at the same time, reducing our carbon footprint.
Indeed, wood seems to have caught the attention of architects and structural engineers in recent times.
For example, the proposed 70-story wooden structure now under consideration in Tokyo, Japan would be the world’s tallest wood building (at 1,148 feet) when completed.
The renaissance in wood’s popularity is also fueled by the taste sensibilities of the Millennial generation. Not only do they love plants in the home and in the office, they are also busy rediscovering the great furniture designers of the mid-century, modern design period, such as Charles and Ray Eames, famous for their bent plywood furniture creations, and George Nakashima, the Japanese-American master of live edge furniture design.
Nakashima’s live edge furniture designs highlight the natural features of reclaimed wood slabs by emphasizing the features that are usually hidden from view (by careful sawing at the lumberyard), such as natural bark surfaces, as well as internal voids caused by stresses, knots, etc.
Born in Spokane, Washington in 1905, Nakashima earned his Master’s in Architecture at MIT, then he traveled the world before moving Japan during the 1930s, where he worked for one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural collaborators in Tokyo. In his explorations of Japan, Nakashima was able to experience firsthand the Japanese design aesthetic known as wabi-sabi celebrates natural defects and variations in materials (in contrast to the prevailing Western design aesthetic that promotes uniformity and perfection.)
The wabi-sabi aesthetic influenced Nakashima’s work as wood sculptor and furniture maker throughout his career. By carefully selecting reclaimed wood slab pieces, Nakashima was able to make one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that are wildly collectible today. (If you are interested in an original Nakashima, check out listings on 1st Dibs, the high-end auction site for architects and designers. You’ll find prices can go up the high 5 figures for his live edge wood slabs table and bench designs.)
You want Hand-Made Live Edge Furniture Designs for Your Office. We Make it Easy.
Given the rarity and cost of original Nakashima furniture, today’s architects and interior office designers looking to incorporate this design aesthetic into their office environments will commission a custom piece of furniture incorporating a reclaimed wood slab.
Here are three of the top reasons our customers choose Formaspace to handcraft their live edge furniture projects.
Make a Signature Design Statement:
There’s no question about it. Specifying live edge furniture for the office sends a powerful message about your company and your brand. Live edge furniture is not for the meek. It makes a powerful, engaging, eye-catching, memorable, and unique statement.
On Trend Aesthetic Design Elements:
Prevailing design trends make live edge furniture the right choice, thanks to its use of unique, one-of-a-kind recycled natural materials that incorporate popular mid-century modern design aesthetics and biophilic design elements.
Commitment to Sustainability:
Reclaimed wood slab tables, desks, countertops, and conference tables tell a story about your company’s commitment to sustainable business practices that are hard to ignore. Formaspace takes this very seriously. Unlike some of our competitors — who have been found to be harvesting virgin trees in sensitive forests (such as those in Brazil) — we only supply wood for live edge projects from local American trees that have fallen due to natural causes.
Live edge furniture design brings you closer to nature and makes you feel like a part of it.
— Philip Mayes, Formaspace Wood Shop Foreman
As a heritage manufacturer of custom furniture for the industrial furniture market, Formaspace has the requisite experience and expertise in making durable custom furniture for the office market. Our clients include top Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, from Google to Capital One, as well as many of the new start-up companies based to here in our hometown of Austin, Texas, in the SF Bay Area, and across the country.
Our thorough ordering and quality manufacturing processes make it easy to order hand-crafted furniture products that will last for years and years. (Ask about our no-questions-asked 12-year guarantee.)
It’s also important to note Formaspace has the capacity to scale up your custom order as needed. For example, a recent project we completed for Capital One was for thousands of custom desks for their Bay Area tech operations.
How to Choose the Perfect Signature Live Edge Wood Slabs Table Material
We can help you select the ideal wood slab specimen for your live edge furniture project. In fact, we keep a steady inventory selection on hand that you can choose from. We can also search for a unique slab that meets your needs.
To make an informed selection, you’ll want to consider factors such as how the furniture will be used, e.g. whether it will be used as a table, desk, bench, or countertop, and the size required.
The choice of wood species is also important as it affects the overall aesthetics of the project.
Here are three of the popular choices used in creating live edge furniture.
Thanks to its inherent strength, oak is a preferred choice for furniture making where durability is important. Red Oak is one of the most popular oak species, and as the name implies, it has a warm, reddish texture with prominent “rays,” — the short dark lines that flow in the direction of the grain; these add a lot of character and visual interest to the surface finish.
Often associated with modern Mission and Shaker furniture, black cherry has reddish, brown heartwood with a grain pattern that varies between straight and curly, depending on the stock selection. Exposure to sunlight can darken the color of cherry wood, so that needs to be taken into consideration.
Walnut is known for its rich, lustrous finish and fine, straight wood grain. Used in high-end cabinetry as well as a rifle production, walnut is recognized as a luxury material. However, available walnut stock tends to be narrower than what can be obtained from larger trees, such as oak. This can have an influence on the ultimate design of your live edge furniture project as several pieces of walnut stock may be needed for large surface expanses.
If your favorite is not listed above, rest assured that we offer many more species to choose from. Contact your Formaspace Design Consultant to discuss your preferences and wood stock availability.
Finally, once in a while, we have a customer who comes to Formaspace with a reclaimed piece of wood for their live edge furniture project. In this scenario, it’s often the case that the piece of lumber in question has exceptional sentimental value. Perhaps it came from a favorite tree, which was overturned in a windstorm or damaged by a lightning strike. We will work closely with you to make the most advantageous use of this type of reclaimed wood.
Choose Your Base Design to Compliment the Live Edge Wood Surface
Once you’ve selected your wood species, the next step in the process is to choose an appropriate base design.
Here at Formaspace, we are known for our heavy-duty, industrial-design inspired metal base designs that are part of our heritage as furniture manufacturer for industrial factories.
We offer metal bases in natural metal finishes, including clear coat protective finishes that let the metal show through while protecting against corrosion. We can also powder-coat our metal bases in one of our standard colors, or we can match a color sample that you provide.
Interested in a different style of base? Not a problem. We can hand-craft bases made of wood or any other material you desire, built to your exact design specifications.
We also offer design services, so if you are not entirely sure what you are looking for, our Formaspace Design Consultants can help you choose or create a design that you will be pleased with.
Live Edge Furniture Manufacturing and Care Processes to Know About
You might be interested to know some of the manufacturing processes that we and our high-quality lumber supply partners do on your behalf in order to deliver a successful live edge furniture project.
Working with our lumber partners, we create and maintain an inventory of available slab pieces you can select for your live edge furniture project. A few steps are involved in the selection and preparation process.
The first step is working with top-notch lumber suppliers. The quality varies a lot across the industry, and we only work with the best companies.
Next, we look over the raw lumber to determine if it will fit the requirements necessary for the intended purpose of the furniture. Sometimes this is an interactive process. A unique piece of lumber with interesting flaws can inform what kind of furniture could be made from it, whether it’s a long bench or countertop or a small desk or table.
Depending on the species and the condition of the unfinished lumber, it may be possible to incorporate the original bark into the design; however, this may be undesirable from an aesthetic point of view or may not be possible due to the condition of the bark and its potential durability for use in a furniture project.
Raw lumber may have a high internal moisture content, particularly if it was recently cut or if it has been stored in a high humidity environment.
Unlike fine wood furniture, where the lumber stock needs to be kiln dried to achieve a uniform moisture content in order to fit the pieces together uniformly, the primary issue with lumber used in live edge furniture projects is different. Dimensional stability is less of an issue where the entire surface is constructed from one piece of wood. Warping, distortion, and cracking, however, are important considerations. Therefore, it’s prudent for most projects to allow the wood to dry out by running it through a kiln drying process.
High-temperature kiln drying can also serve a secondary function, which is very necessary when manufacturing live edge furniture projects. Here, we’re talking about fumigation. Natural logs can have any number of unwanted guests inside, ranging from burrowing worms to insects such as termites or boring beetles, to mold, or fungus infestations that must be treated before bringing the finished furniture project inside.
After the successful kiln drying and fumigation processes are completed by our lumber supply partners, Formaspace places the slabs in our inventory for customer projects.
Why You’ll Love Your Reclaimed Wood Slab Table, Desk or Countertop Hand Crafted by Formaspace
We really enjoy working with our customers to design and hand-craft fully custom, bespoke furniture.
And the live edge furniture projects are always among the most exciting and rewarding — both for us as the manufacturer and for our customers, who will enjoy many years of pleasure from owning a signature piece of furniture.
Commissioning a piece of live edge furniture is like buying a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of art that brings the natural element right into the heart of your office interior.
In fact, we are currently working on several live-edge furniture projects that you’ll be able to see at our booth at NeoCon (the international contract furniture exposition), which will take place Chicago June 11 – 13, 2018.
So we invite you to contact us today to speak with you about your live edge furniture project ideas. And we hope that you’ll be able to join us at NeoCon as well.