Wood and metal in design

In recent times some interesting micro-trends have been emerging in the use of natural materials — for example, side tables and nightstands fashioned from logs of petrified timber, each one a unique object formed by nature.

Another design direction combines wood-based products with manufactured materials, as seen with tree trunks encased in acrylic glass or gilded so the rough-textured grain is transformed by an elegant metallic sheen.

These small tables really showcase wood’s natural beauty and versatility. A sliver of a sizeable tree trunk appears to be balanced on a slender metal frame, with the subtle tonal variation of the wood grain forming a delicate pattern.

Metallic finishes continue to be big news for interiors. Not so long ago, silver was the metal du jour; now a variety of metals are seen in stylish lamps, vases, bowls and accessories — and it’s ok to have a mix of different ones in the same setting.

You can blame designer Tom Dixon who started it all with the black, gold, copper and silver finishes of his Beat lighting collection, which has now become a minor movement in itself.

The trend towards using interesting metals in interior design is somewhat of a revelation for me, because in Germany these finishes are normally seen in practical applications — for example, cars and industrial products where they are utilized for their technical and hygienic qualities. The textured treatment of metallic finishes in interior objects — whether bush hammered, perforated, polished or wrought — reveals a more tactile and expressive aspect of this material.

Contemporary hammered silver lamps and decorative objects made with delicately perforated patterns clearly draw their inspiration from traditional objects seen in Arabic countries. Again, Tom Dixon takes this a step further for his Etch collection, in which finely patterned surfaces combine Middle Eastern craft aesthetics with machine-tooled precision.

My final thought is about how these design trends filter through to hotel design, a topic that fascinates me. A shared “collective unconsciousness” about certain trends seems to grow, and then before you know it, a client has requested we design a concept for a luxury hotel in Germany that bridges the geographical expanse between Europe and Asia — including the Arab world. Now that’s perfect timing!