by Aarthi MohanSep 20, 2023
He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
- Saint Francis of Assisi
…and this is probably the reason that all the designers who feature in this curation are nothing short of artists in their own right. Wood craftsmanship is being revived and respected more than ever before—be it machine made or handmade, small or big; the art of crafting objects with great attention and detail has become important. Everyone wants to own pieces that are unique, statement making, original and one of a kind. Working with wood is also said to be therapeutic—that could also be the reason the designers in spotlight are so good at their craft.
I believe it is important to understand any material, and almost emotionally understand it for you to be able to do justice to the final product. Wood being used in furniture is something we have seen extensively—and probably even outgrown. The designers below push the envelope and surprise us with their mastery over wood, wood-crafting techniques and application in unique formats and products.
Here are my top 10 favourite designers working with wood—in no specific order.
1. Julian Watts
San Francisco-based Julian Watts thrives at the intersection of art, craft, and design, making the functional, intuitive objects more unfamiliar and newly vulnerable. Referencing the human body, the natural world, and simple organic forms, he challenges the idea of utility in design by bringing out the mysticism of everyday objects.
The Twig Vases, Hole in a Bowl and the series of dinnerware utensils tether both art and utilitarian objects, as the right proportions and surrealism make for an absolute visual delight.
2. Luke Hope
I absolutely love Luke Hope’s work, especially the masterfully chiseled platters and spoons. His work is both abstract and functional, as well as slow and contemplative with an incredible play on light and shadow because of the undulated textures he creates. With a strong influence of architectural monuments, his products almost look like cityscapes, twisted and warped.
3. Stian Korntved Ruud
A jaw-dropping collection titled Daily Spoon, consisting of 365 unique hand-carved spoons made from various types of wood gathered from around the world, shows his mastery over the material. Every piece from this collection is worth having in our collection, as it is so meticulously created. He is now focusing on materials with natural and enforced properties, designing and making objects with pure functional or aesthetic features.
4. Nicholas Shurey
The architect-turned-object maker creates beautifully carved wooden sculptures that are designed for small spaces and sit somewhere between furniture and stand-alone objects. His pieces inspired by Barbara Hepworth are bold, monolithic and a sure-shot eyeball grabber.
5. Isidro Ferrer
Isidro Ferrer’s amusing series called ‘The Funny Farm’ for LZF Lamps is a collection of 19 peculiar and quirky looking animals crafted in Sapelli, Spanish Cedar, African Ebony. The collection is a wonderful mishmash of the comical and the curious, with a cast of kooky characters expressing their personalities in a multitude of ways.
6. Ariele Alasko
Holding a major in sculpture, Ariele self crafts and designs every single object in her studio without any help. She is currently obsessed with carving spoons - and I am currently obsessed with her intricately carved collection of dinnerware - especially salad tongs.
7. Mathieu Delacroix
Probably the youngest of the lot, Mathieu Delacroix’s work is the ultimate name in sophistication. The forms, objects, materials are simplified to such great extent - but yet so complex. His Tasso Vase collection is an interpretation of two states: raw and delicate, rustic and refined.
8. Marie Eklund
The Swedish artisans woodworker, Marie, works with minimal tools, using nothing but her axe and carving knife to create impossibly refined surfaces. She works intuitively, drawing something distinctive out of each piece. Her pieces scream of nostalgia, origin and have a sense of earthiness. Each piece is one of a kind.
9. Klaus Mader
Can you imagine a factory making only tops! That’s right. The absolutely sensuous and elegantly shaped Trumpo Tops are designed by Mader himself, a very skilled carpenter and an ardent lover of handcrafted wooden toys using locally sourced Austrian wood. You can’t help but pick one up and give it a twirl then watch mesmerised as it spins and falls.
10. Andreas Emanuel Söderlund
A self-taught woodworker, Andreas creates absolute magic with his knife. One of his earliest pieces is what caught my eye - a beautiful round plate he created combining the techniques of wood carving and wood turning . The pieces are simple, rustic and so easy to imagine sitting on your kitchen shelf.