Pine. When it comes to furniture design, it’s not really the kind of wood to set the heart racing. Think of pine and a raft of rather negative images comes all too readily to mind: bargain furniture outlet stores, student accommodation, cheaply made 1980s kitchens. You get the picture. But it’s all in the application, as a group of young Norwegian designers, collaborating as part of an ongoing workshop called Furuhaelvetica, proved at this year’s Designersblock show during the London Design Festival.
Established in the summer of 2009, the collective has sought to make us rethink our relationship with pine, disassociating it from its past as a ubiquitous and uninspiring material and, through a series of considered experiments, reinvesting it with creative potential.
Marte Frøystad’s ‘Awkward’ pair of small pine tables makes an optical virtue of the wood’s internal growth rings. Blocks of pine are placed together and then shaped on a lathe. The visual heaviness of the table-top element, relative to the legs, is reflected in the project’s name.
Meanwhile, Bjørn Jørund Blikstad has worked with decaying pine for his ‘Family Tree’ set of storage units. Pine that is not collected after it has been felled is slowly attacked by a fungus, which leaves a blue-black trace in the wood but which doesn’t affect the material’s strength. The clinical aspect of cheap mass-produced pine products from the recent past has been displaced in Blikstad’s designs, where the patina of a natural process is foregrounded and valued aesthetically.
Click here for more information on the Furuhaelvetica project