Toronto, May 1, 2017
“The truth is most architects, designers, and furniture makers don’t really know all that much about what is possible in the wood world,” explained Matthew Roberts of UK based Timber Natural (www.timbernatural.com), “We fought hard for years explaining the pros and cons of using solid woods and conversations were often pretty heated, with the words “you can’t do that!” thrown about constantly.” In order to prove them wrong Timber Natural made a solid wood bath out of a single three ton mass of wood. To be clear this is a single piece there is no glue or epoxy in it, it’s 100% natural.” The results are both beautiful and have confounded and disproved the numerous skeptics.
The first question people seem to wonder is “won’t it crack?” The answer is apparently not if you choose your wood correctly. Most architects have very limited training in wood, often as little as one week in order to get certified. “If we had to make the tub out of oak, or elm, or just about any northern hardwood it wouldn’t work,” explained Jonathan Kitzen tech guru and partner company,Timber Neutral’s (www.timberneutral.com), sustainability wood expert. “There are more than 2,000 commercial tree species in the world and each one has different mechanical and aesthetic qualities.” Kitzen likens the lack of wood knowledge to observing that steel rusts so all other metals must rust when clearly there are alternatives. “If you spend the time you can find a wood of any dimension and characteristic you need. We even did an 2.4m (8ft) by 25m (80ft) solid hardwood slab once from Central America and that tree wasn’t even as old as mature walnut or ash tree.”
Looking back 150 years or more some of the best furniture in the world was made from solids – cabinet doors, tables, chair bases, even boats – now however the idea of making these solids seems impossible for most builders. “There is a laziness and complicity that comes with composites like plywood and glue, and people would rather do the easy thing than research and source a natural solution,” elaborated Roberts. Timber Natural has always had the approach that solids and natural color are the best solution.
For Timber Natural that solution emerged from a partnership in Colombia where they were able to sustainably source two different tree species that met the mechanical and aethetic criteria – something that wouldn’t crack due to density and stress differences, yet beautiful and pleasing. They also chose fast growing trees that even though they were nearly 2m wide (more than 6 feet) they were actually not as old as the standard back yard oak tree. The trees chosen were then replanted with endangered trees as part of a timber offset scheme managed by TimberNeutral that provides post processing timber certification.
The final results speak for themselves and are available through XXX of Toronto. As for the weight, suprisingly each piece is between 40 and 140 kilos and quite manageable. “Considering the current interest in solid stone baths that have to be craned into the house and are not that visually appealing its really great to see a more unique and dignified alternative in the market,” said Sandra Williams-Hervé the North American agent. Sandra was also impressed with the products focus on sustainability and forestry management. “There is something amazing about seeing the history of the world traced out in the rings of a tree that makes these art forms unique. I don’t think they are tubs, they are really something special.”