wood in process

Photography by Ronald Smits

by Iwan Pol

The technique behind laminated boards serve as the point of departure for Iwan Pol, who desires a simpler way to construct three-dimensional shapes from flat surfaces. By substituting melamine for a thicker and stronger paper, he developed an ‘overlay’ technique which connects the pieces of MDF together. Thanks to the flexibility of its top layer, the constructions can be folded into spatial objects. Pol’s deftly positioned cut-outs offer a multitude of folding options, flexibly bending in lively patterns. And for an added bonus: because of their foldable nature, the objects can be flat-packed for transportation and assembled upon arrival. 

by Thomas Trum

Medium density fibreboard may very well be one of the most prevalent but simultaneously least attention-grabbing materials used in the housing and furniture industry. In most cases, MDF is buried within a sandwiching layer of paint or veneer, carefully concealed from discerning eyes. But, if left up to Thomas Trum, this skin-deep approach would get a well-deserved kick to the curb. Regarding engineered panels the way an artist views a canvas, Trum treats the wood fibres as paint and forms images. The designer dyes the fibres into a variety of colours and then compresses the colourful strands into a solid sheet. But during this step-by-step process, Trum composes distinctive patterns and shapes to craft one-off, tinted panels. Maintaining its practical features, the sheet material gains aesthetic value and fully stands alone in its rightful place: the spotlight.

Wrapping wood 
by Aukje Fleur Janssen

When Finsa’s pressed paper waste meets the vibrant and playful world of Aukje Fleur Janssen, a party gets started. Janssen curated a selection of colour samples and woodgrain motifs and transforms the printed and tinted sheets into her variegated palette. Torn or trimmed into an assortment of shapes and sizes, the pieces reduce the printed decorations down to their basic textured lines and turn the solid swatches into colourful patterned blocks. Criss-crossed, overlapped or woven, the ribboned scraps join together for festive assemblages. And when wrapped around an object, the eye-catching compositions contain volumes while making a gift that keeps on giving. With a focus on the material appearance of the world around us Aukje reminds a sensory attraction.

Connecting wood 
by Sanne Schuurman

Known for designs which express materiality through rhythm, pattern and colour, Sanne Schuurman swaps out her go-to choice of plastics and foam for the wood-based materials of Finsa. To continue her highly visual motif derived from connections, the designer splits the sheet material into rods and blocks and then interlocks the components in geometric patterns. Turned on their sides and without using their plastic side topping, the fibrous filling is exposed and presented in a series of open weave wooden arrangements. Natural light and their surroundings are invited to interact with the colourful compositions through a complex circuit of striations and voids.

Graved Grids 
by Elvis Wesley

Elvis Wesley is a character which was conceived and previously only existed in the digital realm. De Boer’s Berlin-based studio breathes the process of gestaltung – the German word for ‘design’ – into Elvis Wesley’s world by turning two dimensional orthogonal patterns into a 3D framework in his project Graved Grids. The conversion manifests as grid-like structures which take conceptual cues from engraved objects characteristic of medieval times, albeit fabricated with laser cut sheet materials in modern day. Through de Boer’s prior use of paper, the gridded forms expressed a delicate aesthetic but the latticed structures take a sturdier turn as he swaps out paper for solid MDF. The material exchange enables the designer’s ongoing conceptual process to jump to the next step.

by Roos Gomperts

Despite it’s ubiquitous presence throughout the flooring and furniture industries, medium density fibreboard (MDF) hides in plain sight. Fused wooden fibres – the source of the material’s strength – sit beneath a protective coating, and Roos Gomperts became fascinated by its masquerading role. Mimicking plastic, the outer layers are essentially comprised of stacked sheets of thin paper glued onto the pressed panels. Printed-on imitation grains lead to the material’s use in laminate floors or wood-alternative furniture. From her perspective, this a band-aid solution which lacks tactility and vitality. In an attempt to reinvigorate standardised fibreboard, the designer enables an interaction between the top layer and the underlying MDF. By applying paper cut outs, playing with residual form and collaging sawn elements, the relationship between the different layers is accentuated. Once viewed as an ad hoc solution, MDF-based flooring and furniture become the superior choice with Gomperts’s developments.

Padded wood 
by Robin Pleun Maas

The potential applications and combinations of fabrics, surfaces and materials are central to the work of Robin Pleun Maas. Colourful explorations with structured textiles and woven objects become vibrant compositions with their contrasting yet complementing hues. And once Finsa’s rigid material with prismatic potential is introduced, the designer tries her hand at forming surfaces, shapes or structures with the pressed wooden fibre panels. As seen in her colour-chequered surfaces, Pleun again incorporates in a multitude of hues for Padded Wood, an MDF-based project which gives flexibility, depth and detail to the – no longer stiff – boards.

by Vantot

For Dutch duo Vantot, it’s all in the name. Literally translated from Dutch as ‘from to’, Vantot focuses on the entire process, starting with a technique and ending with the product. The pair strives to find new applications for innovations in everyday life, and it’s not only new-found technologies which have seized their interest. Serving as a guiding light in the duo’s work, antiquated techniques are put to good use in modern day outlets, mutually benefiting from today’s updated knowledge base. Take electricity. Although light bulbs have been around for centuries, innovations – such as the rise of the LEDs – have made continuous evolution possible. And today, electronic devices operate on much lower voltages than ever before, significantly decreasing its hazardous aspects. While direct contact with electricity – and light – used to be a no go, recent developments illuminate completely new realms for the old technology. By embedding electronic paths into a multitude of surfaces, Vantot redesigns the relationship between humans and electricity, especially in home environments.

Wannabe wood 
by Simone Post

It was the initial visit to the Finsa factory which sparked Simone Post’s interest in the image and identity of wood. Upon strolling through the factory halls, she encountered a world of contrasts. On one hand, stacks of stately tree trunks were shredded to return in an unrecognisable state for MDF. At another location, advanced machines were producing digital prints that mimic wood in the most convincing way possible. And eventually, these carefully detailed images then coat compressed boards made from the exact material the prints attempt to replicate: real wood. From start to finish, the contradicting cycle struck a cord with Post, who chose to redirect the tension between the natural and artificial to create new and slightly estranging works. While reminiscent of woodgrain, Post’s graphic prints are obviously – and intentionally – counterfeits. In a second interpretation, the individual rings are milled with the help of a CNC machine to form a bas-relief, unveiling the underlying fibre layers.

Bright sides
by Jeroen van de Gruiter

Jeroen van de Gruiter finds solace in light’s interaction with surfaces and surroundings. His fascination became clear in his series of polyester rods, vessels and plateaus which capture illumination by coiling or reflecting shadows depending on the casted forms transparency or opacity. The designer matures his attraction to light through a fresh take on materials through the collaboration with Finsa. To celebrate the flatness of the sheet material, van de Gruiter forms boxes, letting its sides catch light and cast shadows. The rectangular receptacles are then matched with a range of matte to gloss car wrapping foils. With the wide array of hues possible, the substances interact with each other and ambient light, becoming a focal element to the experience of the crate-like objects.

by Henriette Tilanus

Following her fashion studies at ArtEZ Arnhem and Central Saint Martins London and an ongoing stint working with Dries van Noten, Henriette Tilanus is a textile designer driven by an infatuation with the medium. While the material’s colour, shape and texture plays a big part in the love story, she even finds beauty in its old, mundane and neglected counterparts by applying techniques to reinvent these less desirable materials. Therefore, Finsa’s stiff sheet products propose an inherent dilemma for Tilanus. Through experimentation and techniques which she has never before used, the fashion designer removes the rigidity of the wood-based boards to achieve a fabric of pliable fibres aptly named Stitched.

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