Natural goodness

The inherent warmth in wood has seen the material continue to enjoy immense popularity in the design world. From the latest in furniture and wooden flooring to kitchen counter tops and decorative embellishments, wood or wood products can be found in almost every space

Q Why do you believe wood is so popular in interior design?
Cecilia Maartens, Bedson Timbers:
Wood is alive and natural, it has every green rating an architect is looking for and every emotional feeling of warmth, natural qualities, exotic goodness that a home or office wants to be associated with. People try to incorporate the look of timber/wood in everything from vinyl chairs that look like wood and Italian tiles that cost more than wood and look just like Brown Ebony, to wood laminated floors which are mere photos of timber creatively attached to plywood. However, there is just nothing as exclusive and rewarding as the real thing.

Internationally, the hardwood flooring market continues to grow unabated, with solids becoming an increasingly popular feature in both domestic and commercial settings. New figures show that by installing hardwood floors when renovating or building a home, owners can expect to appreciate at least 10% on their investment in the home’s resale value. This is one of the reasons why the hardwood flooring market has tripled in less than a decade.

According to National Floor Trends from the US, for example, hardwood flooring continues to dominate the hard surface landscape, and is expected to continue its steady climb over the next few years. This is a trend that is at an early stage in South Africa, where hardwoods still play second fiddle to ceramic tiles.

Theresa Venter, Floorworx: Flooring is one of the most important elements when you wish to create a specific look in any interior. Therefore Kährs develop and design a multitude of different wood floors – all beautiful in their own way – to suit all tastes and styles.

For Kährs it is not just about processing the raw material, but also recognising the wood’s inherent beauty and expression. This means that every single piece of wood is appraised, and its natural form and figuring are utilised to create unique wood floors with character. Choosing a wood floor is a responsible choice. Picking a Kährs wood floor means making an even smarter green decision.

Pieter Janse van Rensburg, Incredible Rosewood Furniture: It doesn’t matter which way you look at wood, it only enhances a home and adds warmth. Apart from the fact that you really get wood in any colour, naturally and not stained, you can combine it with almost any other material and create something. Wood can be shaped into any form or pattern imaginable. Wood is also stronger than most other materials – most people don’t know that when a steel and a wood constructed building burns, the steel constructed building collapses first. Thus, wood will last for centuries if treated with respect and care. Wood is also an investment – it will not lose its value if cared for.

One cannot compare the smell of a real wooden furniture with the synthetic materials, it has a life and smell of its own. People should love furniture, if not, educate, educate, educate them.

I would like to see that more emphasis is put onto the flooring industry to change their process from 20m solid floors to genuine laminated wooden floors. Floors are solid, but not all the way through. I hate it when people put rose or teak on floors. Wood will become scarcer and must be protected as far as possible. It is a mind set, and again we need to educate people.

Leon Saven, Leon Saven Design: As a material, wood offers so much, which no other material can offer. Being a natural material, wood is timeless and grounded. It is unpredictable and always warm. The huge variety of wood species available offers such varying characteristics, making wood a material with endless possibilities and personality. Wood is suitable for an endless list of applications, from structural, columns and beams, to surface rendering, be it walls, floors and even ceilings, to furniture and lighting.

Neil Mare, Nowa: Wood is a popular choice in interior design because it invites nature into the home. We as humans have a natural affinity to wood. Wood can be used in all styles of interior design; modern contemporary; classic etc. Wood adds its own character in an interior. With all the ‘green’ lifestyle changes everybody is adapting to, it makes our designs all the more appealing. We use wood with warm earthy colours and beautiful textures to make our furniture.

Q What unique characteristics does the material offer designers?
Bedson Timbers:
The franchise owner of Ciao Baby has used Bedson Timbers’ unique Louro Preto specie for all the interiors of their seven restaurants. The timber has been combined with modern furniture, white backgrounds and incredible Louro Preto wall claddings. The atmosphere is enlightening and fresh, modern and sophisticated.

Bedson import and export over 40 species of exotic hardwoods. Bedson has introduced a four leg grid for designers to choose their ideal coloured species from the range. The colours are divided in Honeys, Medium Browns, Chocolate and Rouges, simplifying the process of choice for the designer.

Floorworx: Wood was designed by nature to be a great insulator and has a way of softening interiors. No other floor covering can compete with the spirit of wood, either physically or emotionally.

Leon Saven Design: Apart from the characteristics mentioned above, wood allows the craftsman to work the material, like no other. Whether one is using solids or veneers, the possibilities of working the material are immense. In solids, wood can be used to construct structures or small objects such as furniture with an economy of material. In other words, wood is structurally strong in both tension and compression. Certain wood species are so strong that very elegant and slight designs can be achieved, Today, in our ever ‘going green’ world, this is a huge concern. Furthermore, there are a massive number of woods available which are sustainable. In veneering, wood offers so many other design possibilities. Again, lightweight frames and furniture can be finished with a wonderful variety of veneer choices, thereby reducing an otherwise heavy and expensive object made up in solid wood. The resilience of veneered objects is often underestimated, while the beauty of well done veneering is unquestionable.

Nowa: Wood has many wonderful natural characteristics. It is strong, it is durable, it is warm, it is textured. With so many developments made in wood, your piece can have a character of its own. Wood is easy to work with and easy to care for. At Nowa we use these characteristics to give our furniture a unique character that complements our customer’s homes. Wood pieces can change a setting dramatically, for instance wall paneling creates a timeless environment that is also sound friendly.

Q How have your products been used to spruce up an interior setting?
Bedson Timbers:
Bedson Hardwood Flooring, Decking & Timbers, a division of the Bedson Group of Companies, introduced a truly exotic timber species to the local flooring market – Brazilian Walnut.

The Brazilian is related to the much better known American Walnut, and is an ideal species for use in the manufacture of high-quality furniture, whilst with its high density and distinctive appearance it will also add elegance to any setting – interior or exterior – in the form of solid flooring or decking.

Originating from South America (mainly Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela), this species is the crème de la crème of flooring and decking, where it is highly functional due to its outstanding durability and its exceptional resistance to wood-boring insects and fungi. It is estimated that the product will last in excess of 40 years if left untreated, and up to 100 years with deck oil applied to its surface.

Brazilian Walnut is available in colours ranging from tan brown to chocolate brown and ages beautiful. It has both a stylish grain, combined with a hardness that makes it an excellent choice in both residential and commercial installations.

Bedson has seen great demand growth for this species in South Africa and internationally and anticipates that this trend will continue in the South African market, thus going the extra mile to continue introducing it to their customers.

The species has been used in many new developments and was recently used in the Koegelen House refurbishment in the Western Cape. The timber’s density allows it to be very functional in the kitchen regardless of water spills and it creates a magic ambiance due to its dark nature – as it is exposed to sunlight and air, it ages to a darker brown.

Using Brazilian Walnut indoors is not the only ideal application; it also works great as a very durable deck option around pools and outdoor areas. Several beach houses in Plettenberg Bay have installed Brazilian Walnut as a deck option and extended the look to the indoor floors and kitchen cupboards. Even a very modern bar area has been equipped with a solid Brazilian Walnut top and veneered timber on the side panels.

Floorworx: When Timberland refurbished its store in the duty-free section of OR Tambo International Airport, and opened a new one in the upmarket Melrose Arch Piazza, the use of anything other than natural wood floors was not an option. The flooring used in both instances was Kährs 15mm Oak Cornwall engineered wood, which has a brushed surface and a matt lacquer finish, supplied and installed by Interior Wooden Floors – which is the sole South African importer of the extensive Kährs range of natural wood products.

The technology incorporated into this product includes a glueless Woodloc joint – claimed to be the first time this has been used on an engineered wood product – which provides a faster installation time with perfect results every time and, by eliminating the use of glue, makes this a truly environmentally friendly installation.

The installation at OR Tambo was a necessary upgrade, in line with the ACSA R53 million extension and refurbishment programme being undertaken at the airport to cater for the forthcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The natural oak wooden floor used for the new Timberland store at Melrose Arch Piazza is in keeping with the high-quality décor and finishes that are a prominent feature of this upmarket centre.

Leon Saven Design: In my work, and over the past 25 years of my career, I have always been drawn to designing with and utilising wood. Especially after spending 11 of those years in Santa Barbara, California, where I was involved with the construction on all my projects, commercial and residential, in wood. The interiors which I designed there were dominated by wood, and the interior joinery and furniture which I designed, of course, was predominantly in wood. In 2001, I took a three month break from architecture and interiors to focus on a task which I had set myself; to design 100 individual pieces of furniture. These pieces were manufactured in Cape Town and shipped to California – amongst them a range of modular units, manufactured from wood which was recycled from palettes which I recovered from machinery which had been shipped to South Afriica. In a restaurant which I designed in Cape Town, in 1996, the tables were also made from old shipping palettes.

Nowa: What is a house but an empty shell without furniture! At Nowa we understand people’s desires for beautiful furniture to make their house a home. We take into account our clients lifestyle and try to complement that with the wood pieces in the house. The furniture also adds value to both the house and the architecture.

Contacts

* Bedson Timbers – 012-803-4376 or HYPERLINK “http://www.bedson.co.za” www.bedson.co.za
* Floorworx – 011-406-4100 or www.floorworx.co.za
* Incredible Rosewood Furniture – 011-952-2681 or www.irfurniture.co.za
* Leon Saven Design – 021-421-6688 or www.leonsavendesign.com
* Nowa – 011-474-5840 or www.nowa.co.za

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