Got Wood? How Much is Too Much?

Well I am sure that most of you probably started reading this because you have dirty, filthy minds and expect the same from me.  Gotcha!  I am talking about wood itself.  The actual stuff that comes from trees.  I am sure they are manufacturing it from re-processed garbage these days but I am only going to talk about the classical type of this material.

As a designer that floats in and around many different mediums such as interior and events I love the use of wood as an accessory.  It has a unique way of softening the approach of a design and naturally, without knowing, it warms up the environment.  How does it do that you might ask?  I believe it is because of the introduction of its natural pattern, reflection of light, and even its tone.  It, like so many other materials, comes in a myriad of hues, tints and shades.  What I want to talk about is how to use it effectively, minimally, and successfully for your designs.  There is a lot of it out there right now that I truly think is just too much.  You see it everywhere, in bars, restaurants, hotels, weddings, corporate events…just about everywhere.  I believe it is most successfully used in moderation though, ergo, the reason for this article.  I have walked into one too many places these days that are just so overdone with wood elements that it looks like you are inside of a barn.  I am not too sure if that is the intent for all of these places but that is the outcome.  The use of refurbished wood, don’t get me wrong, is awesome!  Old barns and buildings torn down and remastered into tasteful desks (I am writing at one now) and coffee tables or unique containers and bars, is a brilliant thing.  But one must learn to edit these things.  Too much of one thing is not good for any environment.  SOME OF THESE PLACES ARE STARTING TO LOOK LIKE UPDATED VERSIONS OF BASEMENT PANELED BARS OF THE 60’S AND 70’S…SEE PIC BELOW~YIKES.   It becomes sensory overload and looses its effect of what I truly believe was not the intent.  I recently posted about the unique qualities of the Soho House brand and its artwork.  There too you see minimal uses of refurbished wood, in their floors and some of their accessories, but then that is it.  It is done well and within scope of the overall project.  As event designers we were stuck in this “vintage glamour” hell for more than 5 years.  Brides and grooms were asking to have their weddings filled with wooden crates, mason jars and everything else that was unique to a backyard party in some white trash town outside of Dubuque.  It was awful and I, quite frankly, could not do it.  It wasn’t my thing, as desperately as I tried, I just could not wrap my arms around it.  It has successfully left the event world, for now, but I am quite sure it will rear its ugly head again soon.  When it comes to your home or your place of business it is harder to do trendy things on a semi permanent basis because of many factors such as time, money, and convenience.  Choose the use of wood or refurbished wood elements wisely.  Do one wall out of it, not ALL of them. Choose one coffee table to stage the room and mix it with metals and glass to lighten the appearance.  Use the wood as it is used in nature, naturally, set next to foliage, rocks, and water.  Now I am not saying that you have to use those elements but it is intended to insight ideas of how to mix textures and materials together to design a cohesive and holistic environment whether it be your restaurant, home or event.  Give the design elements a rightful place in your overall scope just dont overdo it.  There are some awesome designers out there like Miguel Mendez of Helium and Mike Sena of Erratic Manifest who are creating really cool concepts from the use of re-imagined wood.  Check them out!  Whether you agree with this or not is up for discussion but like any posts that you will read from me, it is my opinion, and therefore up for interpretation.  As a designer I try not to duplicate my work in any genre that I float around in. It is hard sometimes when a client sees something they like and they want to replicate that exact thing.  I believe it is our job as teachers to instruct the client and educate them on the best approach for their individual project.  Dont just do it because you can, do it because you want to be onewhodefines.