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Wafer-thin sheets of rose and wenge
11/27/2014

Wood is versatile, can give rooms or products a warm feel, and usually becomes even more beautiful as it ages. Veneers are as flexible as they are robust. Each sheet of veneer is unique, as the tree’s history is reflected in the wafer-thin sheets in the form of growth marks such as tree rings and color nuances reflect the tree’s history. Grains, color shifts, or small notches lend the wood a unique surface: For example, accretions of resin give rise to dark, longer spots or gleaming dots caused by primary rays cut sideways. The variety of veneer colors is quite astonishing. The North American “Vavona Maser”, for example, glows in a strong reddish brown, while African “wenge” wood is so dark that it almost resembles charcoal.

A total of about 200 types of wood can be processed for veneers, which are used to refine furniture, but also for high-grade grand pianos, auto dashboards, aircraft, or ships. In a Web campaign, the Furnier + Natur e.V. (IFN) initiative reports on designers, artists and craftsmen working with veneer as a natural product, and offers us a glimpse into their workshops.

For example, in the basement beneath designer Sarah Maier’s carpentry workshop there are 120 different types of veneers, with exotic sounding names like “Indian Apple”, “Makassar”, “Brazilian Slate” or “Satin Walnut”, all of which she uses for her furniture. Her “HB1” highboard, for example, boasts a wraparound veneer of Caribbean rosewood which gives it a rustic and yet refined touch. “Our work is meant to bring joy to everyday use, offering timeless beauty, clear ease in handling, and outstanding tactile qualities,” the Markgröningen designer comments; she often finds that the countless veneers themselves are a source of inspiration.

Master cabinet-maker Achim Allrich from Cologne likes things to be a bit more unconventional. As part of a workshop, with his apprentices he built kiteboards of overlapping veneers that on testing proved to be highly durable in water. Poplar veneer is especially suited to the task, as it is light and elastic, and therefore strong. “As a cabinetmaker I am fascinated by wood above all because it is warm, and it lives, and is always different,” Allrich says, who himself loves to use his homemade kiteboard.
Rolf Senti, who makes veneered bathtubs, or Michael Bröker, who applies veneer to upgrade walk-through wardrobes, likewise find the material inspiring. Tyrol-based Roland Wolf, who makes spectacle frames from veneer in his own workshop, confesses: “Wood needs to be taken seriously. As otherwise it does what it wants with you.”

www.furniergeschichten.de


The highboard with the wraparound veneer designed by Sarah Maier is made of Mexican rosewood. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

The “Kiteboard” project is destined to get young craftsmen raving about veneer – the wood gives every kiteboard a look of its own. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

Every single work piece is unique. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

Rolf Senti makes bathtubs with veneers from original woods.
Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

Thanks to the veneer, Michael Bröker’s walk-through wardrobes seem refined and timeless. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

Roland Wolf spectacle frames consist solely of veneer and require no screws.
Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.

The FurnierGeschichten campaign reports on craftsmen and designers who on occasion make unusual products using veneer. The campaign’s successful realization won it the “Annual Multimedia Award”. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.0

The FurnierGeschichten campaign reports on craftsmen and designers who on occasion make unusual products using veneer. The campaign’s successful realization won it the “Annual Multimedia Award”. Photo © Initiative Furnier + Natur e. V.1