The foremost quality that makes wood wood, both as a material and as a metaphor, is its inflexible rigidity. Dutch designer Carolien Laro, however, has challenged this age-old conception with Spring Wood – a series of furniture made of solid wood yet with flexible seating surfaces.
The flexibility is achieved by cutting meticulously engineered mesh-like slits into the solid wood tops. Each pliable wooden seat requires requires 480 CNC-milled cuts, manufactured by Dutch woodworking studio Ritmeester, and the original concept cost Laro 600 hours of prototyping.
The series consists of three stools — one with wheels, one without and one with folding legs — and one three-seater bench.
Laro’s innovative blend of contradictions, of rigidity and flexibility, simplicity and complexity, won her the Dutch Wood Challenge Prize, as well as a nomination for the prestigious DOEN materials prize. The concept offers an exciting possibility for using natural, sustainable materials where synthetics are traditionally used.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.