Spring wood designs
One of the hottest items at Material Xperience last week was a series of flexible wooden designs. Carved out of solid wood, the springy pieces are a charmingly simple experiment in materials’ innovation.
Designers often struggle with contradictions: creating as much space as possible in as little volume, or making an object strong but also lightweight. Designer Carolien Laro wanted to combine two contradictions in wood: rigidity and flexibility.
It’s often hard to do this, which makes her successful experiments all the more interesting.
Together with the wood-working company Ritmeester, she developed the spring concept from ash wood. Layers of wood were glued together to create a single, strong panel.
This process was followed by CNC milling. Vertical grooves were cut into the top and the underside of each panel, giving the wood responsive flexibility. Each wooden ‘pillow’ requires a total of more than 480 CNC groove-milling steps.
The designer invested well over 600 hours in the development of the first prototype, which was hand-made.
Of course, putting that much work into one small stool is commercially unfeasible, so every technical detail had to be developed for the full-scale production of her idea.
Several versions of the principle have now been made using the basic principle. These include ‘The Paperclip’, which features stainless steel legs for a clean finish. A more playful version is the ‘Restless Legs’ which is mounted on four wheels. ‘The Bridge’ is a stable, three-seater on a tough steel frame.
For this innovative work, Carolien won the Wood Challenge Prize as well as nominations for the IMI Award and the DOEN material prize.
The spring wood series was on show at Material Xperience 2014. We’ll be taking a closer look at more of the special items that were on display over the coming days.