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Navel guitar is made with 50,000 year old kauri wood

Designer Lorenzo Palmeri designed Navel, a series of three types of electric guitars, one made of beech wood, one with a self-healing surface, and one made with 50,000 year old kauri wood.

Navel (belly button) is a reference to the “centrality of the human being in design thinking and to the connection between guitar and musician that takes place through the small hole at the base of the body”. The guitars are born form an experimental approach and research on gestures, shapes and materials, and how they influence the sound and experience of the musician.

Navel combines the looks of a classic and an electric guitar. “The body contains two contrasting messages, the roundness of the maternal, ‘feminine’ form, typical of the classical guitar, and the ‘masculine angularity’ of the shoulders,” Palmeri says. “The form speaks about the characteristic of the sound of this guitar, about its voice, which is capable of extending from a very sweet area to a very hard and powerful one.”

A limited series, made in collaboration with Riva 1920, is made of kauri wood. Kauri is a type of conifer that only lives in the sub-tropical climates of New Zealand. The used wood is a non-fossil wood that was naturally preserved by the absence of oxygen in some swampy areas. About 50,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, for unknown reasons, whole forests of kauris were submerged in water and mud. In spite of being buried in the mud for thousands of years, the trunks are preserved perfectly and have the same quality as freshly felled trees. Using the kauri wood makes Navel “the oldest guitar in the world”.

The second Navel guitar is made from wood and Fenix NTM, a material made by Arpa Industriale. The Fenix material is made up of layers of paper, which are heat pressed into a non-porous material. The core is made up of paper impregnated with thermosetting resins, and the outer surface is treated with acrylic resins. To harden it, the surface is subjected to a process of electron beam curing. The material has the ability to regenerate from superficial micro-scratches, thanks to its thermal-reparability.

The last Navel guitar is made from beech wood.

Each of the guitars has different sound characteristics. The kauri guitar, for example, sounds “warmer”, and the Fenix “longer”.

Photos: Lorenzo Palmeri

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