Bethan Laura Wood knows wood. Actually I knew that she knew wood a long time ago but have neglected to follow up on her antics since her somewhat exposed 'Link' series of wooden jewellery back in 2008. In reality she has expanded beyond her woody beginnings. Maybe she was sick of the likes of me making silly puns out of her last name and connecting that with her work. Doh! It's high time I raided her jam-packed portfolio site for a reminder of why Wood was named "Future 500 Top Ten for Fashion and Retail", as a talent to watch in 2008. Since then, Wood has become an intriguing object designer, with the results of her studio Wood London ranging from ceramics to furniture to lighting to jewellery to scarves. I've lost count of all the galleries, exhibitions and artist residences that Wood has taken part in but they all sound suitably fancy and assert this young creative as someone who can weave in and out of different creative fields seamlessly.
Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Vanessa Traina for NY Times T Magazine
Get ready for the GIF attack. They are all Wood's GIFs not mine so I'm indirectly inflicting them upon you guys. They do genuinely illustrate the dynamic quality of her work as well as her prolific output. Where in the beginning she looked at wood as an unconventional material to work with in accessories, she has come to use use the surface patternation of wood to create more complex formations.
This is her 'Particle' pattern which takes previously 'naff' wood laminates to create new patchwork patterns that look like jigsaw or marquetry surfaces. These curiously reconfigured laminate patterns have been made into a series of interlocking crates and stacking unites that I wish were sitting in my home as a games console. The off-cuts from this furniture project have then been made into the Particle range of hexagonal and square shaped bangles, meticulously cut from a master extrusion and playing off the graphical elements of the wood.
This is a pattern that Wood used for her earlier 'Hard Rock' series of furniture which has spawned later versions and other spin-off projects. Again, laminate is used here this time to convey the patterns seen in rocks and minerals with each standard laminate manipulated and treated as though it were a rare wood veneer. The pattern has then been applied in different instances of furniture as well as a series of 'Soft Rock' scarves. Printed square scarves for Wood would have been an easy route. The shape of each scarf is dictated by the form of the rock rather than a 90×90 square and on the body drapes in a different way.
This 'Playtime' piece of furniture, commissioned by Wallpaper Magazine is another stellar example of Wood's thinking as a deeply thoughtful product designer who manages to incorporate whimsy into her work without sacrificing function.
You might think I'm going beyond my remit, sticking up GIFs of impossibly cool furniture that less than five people on this earth could own. Wood's work though has struck a chord with me as I begin to be more and more obsessed with designers forging their own stamps on traditional craftsmanship, a theme that for S/S 12 seems rather potent.