Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Kevin Brown

Beautifully Blemished: The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Warm tones, sinuous lines, and the imperfections of nature draw people to live edge furniture. The pieces highlight the natural grain and irregular edges of the wood. Both modern and rustic room designs can incorporate live edge furnishings.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

During ICFF in May, many designers showcased live edge pieces. This may signify a resurgence of the trend or simply a newfound admiration for the natural beauty of wood and its distinctive knots and bumps. Nevertheless, it is undeniably beautiful.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Indo Artifacts displayed a uniquely colored slab table with graceful, curved legs.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Martin C. Vendryes created a Vitae table that blends late 19th and early 20th-century arts & crafts designs with modern aesthetic influences. His designs highlight the organic beauty of live edge, wormy, and spalted slab surfaces.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Vendryes creates unique pieces like this custom console table displayed at ICFF 2015.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Tod Von Mertens showcased a rare blonde wood live edge piece at ICFF. The light color suits modern interiors. We spoke with several designers about their collections of live-edge pieces, their attraction to this type of wood, and what they believe makes it so appealing.

Cherrywood Studio, based in Ontario, Canada, creates hand-crafted tables and accessories using both live edge and regular wood.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Steve Meschino has always had an interest in live edge woodworking. A decade ago, he left his corporate job to pursue this passion. Creating unique pieces for his clients has become his true calling.

The appeal of creating live-edge furniture lies in its organic look. These pieces showcase the natural grain of the tree and the stories behind it, as expressed through the live edge.

When it comes to sourcing and selecting wood, Steve carefully considers each piece. He looks for wood that possesses unique characteristics and can be transformed into stunning creations.

We work with arborists in southern Ontario who understand the value of preserving old growth trees. When they need to remove a tree for safety, disease, or permits, they call Cherrywood Studio to salvage the trunk. We don’t cut trees to make furniture, but rather salvage them from becoming firewood or ending up in a landfill.

What contributes to the appeal of live edge furnishings?

Wood adds warmth to any room, whether it’s a signature dining table or a live edge mirror above the mantel. The interest in live edge furnishings can be incorporated into various design styles.

What’s the most unique way you’ve incorporated a live edge into a design?

We recently created an 11-foot black walnut dining table for a client with live edges along the sides and in the middle where the two slabs meet. This creates mirror images of the slabs, which is a striking detail of the table’s signature.

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Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

The sculptural base of this table attracted attention at ICFF. Beyond being a support, it adds to the artistic nature of the piece.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

This simple base is still architecturally appealing.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

This slab table accentuates the curved lines and wood edge color by mirroring them down the middle, resulting in a large, dramatic piece.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Talented craftspeople can enhance a table’s beauty by turning natural imperfections in wood into design elements that elevate its aesthetic appeal.

Sentient Furniture, a Brooklyn-based company, was founded by an attorney, a physician, and an industrial designer. All three individuals possess a strong passion for thoughtful, creative, and original design.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Your founders have diverse backgrounds and came together to create unique furnishings. Nersi Nasseri, with 30 years of furniture design and making experience, started the journey. In the past, he was a student and teacher at Pratt.

Michael Lamont, who started our sister brand Shimna a decade ago, collaborated with Nersi to create pieces. This collaboration eventually led to the establishment of Sentient. Ali Yavari, a family friend of Nersi’s, moved to NYC from Tehran.

He is a brand marketing expert and has played a pivotal role in promoting the brand.

As for the studio, the number of people working there is undisclosed.

In the studio are myself and Michael. He runs the business and I do computer renderings and other design tasks.

How do you source and choose your wood?

We source all of our wood in Pennsylvania from family-owned lumber mills. Typically we select the wood based on the table size.

Do you search for wood for a particular design, or does the wood determine what you will make?

One of our challenges is convincing clients to sign off on a table without seeing the finished product. All our pieces are made to order, so the client’s desired dimensions dictate the slabs we can use. We must find a slab that meets their size requirements and unique features.

Some people want a lot of character in their table, while others prefer a subtle live edge curve.

What contributes to the appeal of live edge furnishings?

Nature is beloved, especially in cities where it can be scarce. The live edge is appealing because it’s an organic form that adds warmth and life to modern, geometric spaces.

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The most unusual way we have incorporated a live edge into a design is our ‘Friends’ bookcase concept.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

This dining table incorporates the live edge in a dramatic way, whilst creating a traditional rectangular table. By flipping the live edges to the middle and suspending a glass panel over the gap, the designers have created a unique, functional piece.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Live edge tables highlight natural imperfections in wood, but their surfaces are buffed smooth. Butterfly joinery stabilizes slab pieces, preserving their beauty as part art and part architecture.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Sometimes an unconventional cut can create a statement piece by emphasizing not only the cross grain top but also the visible vertical grain on this thicker tabletop.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Slab construction is not limited to tables and accessories. This headboard demonstrates the design versatility of live edge pieces and pairs well with a modern bed. It is the only statement your bedroom needs.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Another example of rustic wood paired with a modern element is the Luxor chest. The minimalist shape and dark glass, emphasized by the live edge wood sides, would fit any decor style.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Modern and unusual, these custom “Friends” bookcases are functional statement forms, different from the average slab table. Applewood, generally not used for woodworking, becomes an asset in the creation of Steven Henderson’s Applewood Sconce.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

As a child, I watched my father build our cottage. It is one of my strongest memories. There was wood everywhere at the cottage. As I grew up, I was always interested in wood and fascinated by furniture. Seeing Nakashima’s book “The Soul of a Tree” changed my life.

After my studies, I worked in industrial cabinetmaking/furniture making, then in interior design, and then back to woodworking. Working with my hands and seeing things take shape in the process is very important to me. You don’t understand that when you work only on paper or a computer.

Mistakes have taught me the most and also opened up creative opportunities.

Why did you decide to create live-edge sconces?

I am lucky to work in a creative building in Toronto, Canada. My neighbor, Mike Sharpe, runs a company called Storyboard Furniture. He started a Crowd Funding Campaign and asked me, along with other artists, designers, and craftspeople, to create works out of apple wood as gifts for donors. The ‘Apple Wood Salvage Initiative’ repurposed wood from an old apple orchard for kitchenware and furniture objects…

While cutting down apple trees in the orchard, I was fascinated by their unique characteristics. Apple wood is typically used for small projects because it warps easily and frequently cracks. I decided to embrace these qualities. By slicing the wood thin and encouraging it to warp, I could showcase its imperfections.

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Placing the sconce at eye level allows people to study the wood grain up close, like they would with a painting… Thus, the apple wood sconce was born.

How do you choose your wood?

At this point, I have access to enough apple wood. In the future, if I need more, I will find an apple orchard in Canada that wants to discard its non-fruit-bearing trees. Once I have the wood, I study its profile and imagine the visual activity of the grain.

There is no clear logic, but the piece must have a feeling of ‘wholeness’ or ‘energy’ to become an Apple Wood Sconce.

What contributes to the appeal of live edge furnishings and accessories?

Typical construction places us in environments with flat surfaces and straight lines. Live edge work is a strong contrast to this. Its presence is dramatic in these spaces. The live edge form, with its unpredictable shape and pattern, is the opposite of a straight line, square, or box.

Catching a glimpse of it draws us in to investigate, creating a curiosity like that of a child.

It also gives us the experience of nature or a living tree being close to us, which is not something we usually have in our homes. This creates a subtle, subconscious stimulation and soothes the mind. Nature has a calming effect, as you may have experienced after being stressed and immersing yourself in nature.

I personally believe that “live edge” work has a similar effect.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

Henderson maximizes the splits and gnarly edges to create pieces that reflect warm light in unique ways.

Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings
Beautifully Blemished The Appeal Of Live Edge Furnishings

These unique sconces can be used in both minimalist and traditional interiors. They serve as statement lighting and also repurpose salvaged wood.

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