You need wood to make a table

December, Nikari

December, Nikari

Extremely low-impact,  natural, renewable and recyclable: contemporary design rediscovers the eco material par excellence.

Ancestral yet very contemporary, wood is the material of the moment because it is the only one that derives from renewable and regenerable sources, the only material that is truly totally recyclable and, often, the only one whose supply can really be said to be zero kilometre. At a moment in history such as this, when the exploitation of energy resources is on all the government agendas, it’s no longer possible to imagine design and architecture without it. On the contrary, using this furnishing (and construction) material is now a necessity, and an act of responsibility and maturity. It’s not a question of following a trend or an intellectual or merely aesthetic fashion. Nor does it “lose” its fascination, emotion or warmth. Quite the reverse, for those who choose it, wood is a constant surprise because each trunk, each branch, every plank and every slat is unrepeatable, original, different from the next. Wood combines functionality, good looks and huge versatility – it is light and elastic, it can be worked into an extraordinary wealth of shapes, carved, decorated and even inlaid. It demonstrates that it is absolutely contemporary and on a par with many other innovative materials.

Many businesses are now rediscovering not just the artisan skills, the knowledge and the abilities, but also the ancient processing techniques which are now being harnessed to fulfil the contemporary vision of designers. They inform products in which the cut, the shaping, the smoothing and the finishing almost make us lose sight of the fact that they are mass produced. They are “live” furnishings, made to be long-lasting and not made to cater for passing taste thanks to the tremendous expressive power of the wood.

We have chosen just over 20 pieces, their style unmistakable yet understated, solidly silent yet precious, inviting one to touch the material from which they are made.

Last year, Riva1920, synonymous with Made in Italy wood furniture par excellence, has just celebrated its 100th anniversary and issued the Centenarium Collection to guide us through a world made up of carefully selected wood, sourced from planned and controlled felling, reusing very precious woods


Centenarium Collection, Riva1920 - Photo Andrea Mariani

Armadillo, craftsman-designed and produced in Mogente (Valencia) by MUT Design for Expormim is a reworking of a furnishing classic in rattan – the Papasan – characterized by the postmodern features typical of this Spanish design duo.

Armadillo, Expormim

Armadillo, design by MUT Design, Expormim - Photo Alessandro Russotti

Alfredo Häberli’s Time for Alias looks to the ancient art of origami. The concept behind the chair revolves around the transformation of a simple two-dimensional leaf into a three-dimensional shell of great stylistic balance and obvious ergonomic characteristics.

Time, Alias

Time, design by Alfredo Häberli, Alias

Zampa by Jasper Morrison for Mattiazzi, maintains the direct, practical and genuine approach of the old stools, while being lighter, flexible and decidedly more brightly coloured.

Zampa, Mattiazzi

Zampa, design by Jasper Morrison, Mattiazzi

Héra by Patrick Jouin for Pedrali makes for a blend of lightness, comfort and ergonomics in a product that is also sustainable. The wooden parts of the chair come from certified forests, while the water-based paints are largely composed of plant-derived resins.

Héra, Pedrali

Héra, design by Patrick Jouin, Pedrali

Romby by GamFratesi for Porro is the translation of an extremely simple geometric shape, the rhomboid, into a three-dimensional piece of furniture. The designers worked with 3D modelling and designs to preserve the original shape.

Romby, Porro

Romby, design by GamFratesi, Porro

Frank Jiang draws inspiration from the weaving of vine branches for the wooden structure of Vine, his small easy chair for Turri.

Vine, Turri

Vine, design by Frank Jiang, Turri

The Storia stool, designed by Kari Virtanen, the founder of the brand Nikari, channels minimalism in order to highlight the natural beauty of the material and is a homage to traditional Nordic craftsmanship.

Storia, Nikari

Storia, design by Kari Virtanen, Nikari

Nara, by Jean-Marie Massaud for Poliform, is not just a simple coffee table, it can also be turned into a practical stool or bedside table. Its shape is fluid, its lines are clean, its personality is strong and its power evocative.

Nara, Poliform

Nara, design by Jean-Marie Massaud, Poliform

In the sophisticated understatement of the Any Day console designed by Christophe Pillet for Flexform, we find attention to detail, balanced proportions, celebrated elegance of the silhouette and masterful execution

Any Day, Flexform

Any Day, design by Christophe Pillet, Flexform

Thomas Bentzen reminds us that we are just at the start of the smart office concept with his Linear System of tables for Muuto, which respond effectively to the demands of constantly-changing contemporary workspaces. The use of wood, with its tactile warmth and familiarity, transmits a feeling of belonging to the user.

Linear System, Muuto

Linear System, design by Thomas Bentzen, Muuto

Shibumi, Jiun Ho’s latest creation for Porada, is a dining table that marries Italian craftsmanship with elements of Japanese design

Shibumi, Porada

Shibumi, design by Jiun Ho, Porada

Carl Hansen & Søn has issued unused designs by Børge Mogensen and produced the BM0253 Shelving System. Minimalist design is the strongpoint of these furnishing pieces, which channel beautifully the interest in Danish Modern wood.

BM0253, Carl Hansen & Søn

BM0253 Shelving System, design by Børge Mogensen, Carl Hansen & Søn

Gordon Guillaumier’s Rigadin collection for Alf Da Frè is extremely interesting. He has taken the traditional ribbed decorative “rigadin” motif, engraved onto Murano vases and glasses and has applied it to wood

Rigadin, Alf Da Frè

Rigadin, design by Gordon Guillaumier, Alf Da Frè

Setsu & Shinobu Ito’s project for Giorgetti is all about emotion. Kiri is a mobile bar cabinet named after the ancient Japanese tradition of planting a Kiri tree to mark the birth of a daughter. The tree would be turned into a precious sideboard when she got married.

Kiri, Giorgetti

Kiri, design by Setsu & Shinobu Ito, Giorgetti

Just as in some of the most classic film thrillers, what seems like a simple wall can be activated automatically to reveal a secret room. It then closes and becomes a majestic bookcase. Lybre, designed by Piero Lissoni for Lualdi is an imposing revolving bookcase that can be activated manually or by remote control.

Lybre, Lualdi

Lybre, design by Piero Lissoni, Lualdi

Cassina has produced Paravento Balla, designed by the artist in 1917, which fully represents the revolutionary principles of the Futurist movement of which Giacomo Balla was a leading exponent.

Paravento Balla, Cassina

Paravento Balla, Cassina

Zanat has come up with Sky by Monica Förster – not just practical objects but modern art sculptures, hand carved in solid wood that are so good-looking that they look beautiful from every angle.

Why stop at kitchens and living rooms? Wood is also making inroads into bathrooms. This is where it fosters intimate and natural relaxation.

Sky, Zanat

Sky, design by Monica Förster, Zanat

Effegibi is well aware of this and, with Yoku by Marco Williams Fagioli, it is channelling a particular branch of natural Japanese medicine based on the beneficial effect of contact with plants and forest atmospheres

Yoku, Effegibi

Yoku, design by Marco Williams Fagioli, Effegibi

Lens is an entire collection of lighting devices designed by MUT Design for LZF, which makes wood its strong point. A perfectly round or elliptical shade, empty in the middle or embellished with a mirror in the wall version, emits a suffused, radiant light.

Lens, LFZ

Lens, design by MUT Design, LFZ

The Illan pendant lamp by the young Hungarian designer Zsuzsanna Horvath for Luceplan valorises all the qualities of wood. The highly decorative, very light body is made from thin, flexible plywood, laser cut along densely packed, equidistant lines and hung from the ceiling. Gravity gives it its characteristic shape which flutters in the undulating air.

Illan, Luceplan

Illan, design by Zsuzsanna Horvath Luceplan

With the pandemic, words and concepts like circularity, eco-design and respect for nature have acquired new potential and new dynamism. ReThinking The Future from Tabu expresses this awareness through the study and unveiling of new potential for wood. This is a new collection of veneers and inlays, a polyphony of wood species, shapes and colours.

ReThinking The Future, Tabu

ReThinking The Future, Tabu

17 February 2021