Prized for it strength and durability, wood was a perennial favorite in traditional design and architecture. But modernism moved away from this earthy medium, turning instead to new, man-made materials.
These days, wood has re-emerged as a design trend. Easy to use, sustainable and featuring an attractive organic look, it's once again become a popular presence in residential and hotel design—as well as products from phone chargers to speakers, sunglasses to watches.
As Nizar Jamal, an architect in Saudi Arabia, explains, "designers started realizing that the use of wood evokes warmth and reminds us of the environment. It also acts as a balance with artificial-looking modern materials. Wood is not only a trend, but a major design element that will never fade."
Lighting designers in particular have embraced the appeal of wood. It fits nicely into today's prevailing eco-friendly sensibility and, as Jamal points out, its rich color and organic look "embrace the light and produce a calm and homey feeling."
According to Paul Felix, a London-based lighting designer, the increasing miniaturization of LEDs means the light source recedes into the fixture, "allowing the wood to retain its natural elegance and remain the main feature—as opposed to the interior LED."
Although any wood can be used for lighting design, Felix cites ash, beach and pine as among the best for their "long, flowing grain patterns."
Wooden fixtures are an ideal match for contemporary environments. "The material is highly flexible," Felix says, noting that it pairs beautifully with everything from marble and concrete to metal and glass.
What's more, there's a compelling colour palette of wood and wood grain available today, says Felix. "Very light woods and grey-grained or oak-limed wood finishes are as much at home within ultra-modern poured concrete finishes as they do within modern minimalist interiors."
Designed by Ramos & Bassos for Vibia, Duo embodies the wood trend in lighting. Inspired by nature, its simple, circular silhouette is crafted of a veined oak timber interior and a sleek aluminum shell.
The combination provides versatility and a compelling visual juxtaposition between the earthy, organic interior and the more refined exterior. The wood lends the LED-powered fixture a warm glow while the exterior ensures even distribution of light.
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