Material Palettes - Exposed Wood

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With my last blog, I discussed the metal and glass palette and some of its connotations. This week, I am taking a look at a palette near the opposite end of the spectrum – the exposed wood palette.

One of the first materials we, as a species, made use of is wood. This is the first connotation of the wood palette – antiquity. With exposed wood, we are reminded of our ancient and shared past as a human race – from the discovery of fire and the use of wood as a fuel, to the first use of wood as a structural material to be shaped and arranged for shelter and tools. With exposed wood we have an existential connection that is probably the most potent and elemental of any connection between a material and the common consciousness.

Shaping wood – one of the first technologies of humanity

Exposed wood also has a direct connection with nature and the natural environment. We see wood, we think tree. We think tree, we feel nature and shelter – a tree itself is a type of shelter provided by nature, and canopy is one of its defining characteristics. The dual connotation of shelter and nature is a powerful and evocative aspect of the exposed wood palette that seems to reach into opposing ideas (nature vs. shelter) and bring back their most appealing qualities into one visual representation.

Shelter + Nature

Combine this with the warmth of its colors, the playful, complex geometries of its grains, and its extreme workability, and you arrive at the inviting, ancient, nautral, warm, sheltered and peaceful connotations that come with an exposed wood palette.

Although usually thought of as a material to be used with traditional or transitional themes, wood is often at its best when reimagined as a modern material. The combination of simple, elegant geometry with the warmth and complexity of exposed wood grain is another powerful combination of apparent opposites that eschews preconceptions about the material and proves again its versatility.

Exposed wood can be extremely powerful within contemporary design

Warmth, shelter, antiquity, the hearth, and nature are all concepts associated with the exposed wood palette. As time goes on, these concepts will open up into more applications and connotations as the use of the exposed wood palette broadens its appeal and moves further into the contemporary design sphere.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of contemporary furniture options on that celebrate the exposed wood palette.

The Alastair Bedroom Set is clad in dark amber wood that has a rich color and grain.

The Cecilia Bedroom Set is clad in dark mindy wood, which has unique wavy grain pattern that is the main visual component of this set.

The Plymouth Coffee Table is made of exposed molded plywood – a combination of synthetic and natural that retains the warmth of wood and combines it with the curving forms of molded plywood.

The Chisolm Oval Dining Table is clad in walnut, which has a darkish tint and a beautiful grain pattern.

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