Recent furniture design graduate Lewis Nelson took a look at a rarely used wood in furniture production when designing his final degree piece from Sheffield Hallam University. Instead of ash, the go-to wood in the UK, Nelson chose Douglas Fir when creating the Douglas Bench.
Despite Douglas Fir being a fast growing and native tree in the UK, it’s typically only used in the construction industry there. It can be steam bent, just like ash, making it the perfect substitute. It’s necessary to look to another wood after about 80 million UK ash trees were killed due to fungal diseases about two years ago. With diseases like ‘ash dieback’ surfacing, alternative wood choices need to happen.
Douglas was made using a method of laminating that uses each section of the tree – mixing heart wood with sap wood. Nelson’s mix of raw steam bent parts with a modern green color creates a contemporary spin on the traditional Windsor chair.
From the designer:
Laminated from thin green timber sections, ‘Douglas’ has been designed with minimum timber wastage as the core focus point. Lamination steam bending is used to maximise the amount of product that can be harvested from a single tree. This novel technique means less desirable sections of timber can be utilised in the final outcome.