For the last decade, we have been railing (bad wood puns) against the forestry industry and their practices of clear-cutting forests and the overuse of wood without replanting trees, and it gave hardwoods, specifically exotic species a bad name. The use of Ipe, Teak, Walnut, and other hardwoods evoked images of destroyed villages and charred forests. Some of that has changed, as now there are sustainable requirements in place in most / many forests that protect against mass deforestation and clear cutting and require more trees planted than harvested as well as other protective measures.
This is good news, but it is not the only reason that wood has fallen back into favor with designers, specifically those focused on the environment and occupant health. Due to our “innovation,” we have modified many wood products to now be composites, typically infused with some sort of polymer or resin to make them stronger, or cheaper or more durable. The amount of wood that is used in construction is largely relegated to behind-the-wall sheathing, subfloors or a veneered cabinet face on MDF. Wood studs are hidden behind drywall and the only real place we see a lot of finish grade, grained wood is flooring.
But wood is back and at the forefront of design inspiration, and that is changing due to a couple of factors:
As people care more about clean air and CO2 emissions, wood brings a very attractive feature to the table (more bad wood puns): it is a carbon sink. That means that half the weight of wood is sequestered carbon. Carbon that it has pulled out of the air during photosynthesis and has used to compose itself. So the structure of wood is sequestered carbon. Due to the cycle of life, we know that this carbon could be returned to the environment through burning or decomposition, but in lieu of those less attractive end of life options, it can be purposed as a building material. So the use of wood as a construction product is giving life and purpose to sequestered carbon vs send it back in the air to chip away at the ozone layer.
This is the hot topic with designers and architects right now. Incorporating nature into a space makes people happier, healthier and is the design technique that hospitals, schools, and offices are all incorporating into their spaces. There are many ways to incorporate biophilic design into a space, but wood is a simple and versatile option. Wood evokes nature and just the presence of wood has biophilic features. Natural wood grains are shown to stimulate the parasympathetic system and calm you, minimizing stress and promoting focus. In fact, if you're looking to learn more about biophilic design, we teach a CEU course on the subject.
Looking to get into the grain for your next design project? Check out our Wood is Good Pinterest board for product inspo.
Koskisen - Eco-Transparent Plywood
Torzo - Bio-based Panels
reSAWN TIMBER co.
Bark House - Bark Siding & Panels
Wonderwall Studios- Reclaimed Wood Paneling
Plyboo - Bamboo Flooring & Bamboo Plywood Products