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Live Edge Furniture

“A tree is our most intimate contact with Nature”, said American woodworker George Nakashima. Nature has been our most generous friend since the beginning of time, providing for our every need. Now it’s our turn to celebrate this friendship.

Centuries ago, man was very well connected with Nature. With the passage of time and ‘modernisation’, this connection has worn thin. Nowadays, live edge furniture is helping us to strengthen the bond.

What is Live Edge Furniture?

Long ago, when the settlers were making America their new home, there was a great demand for liveable spaces and functional furniture. Trees were cut down, log cabins were built, and smaller pieces of sawn wood were ‘put together’ to make basic furniture. With the invention of machines, the natural look became less popular, while shiny and polished furniture became the trend.

This ‘natural look’ is what live edge furniture is all about. In the live edge furniture style, all the imperfections and natural grain of the wood are incorporated as part of the design. The unfinished edge of the furniture, unaltered by tools or machinery, retains the inherent characteristics of the wood. This is the beauty of live edge furniture.

Credit for reintroducing us to this beautiful style of woodwork goes to American architect and furniture maker George Nakashima, whose distinctive style of work integrates the natural, ‘flawed’ edges of the wood in the final design. According to him, Kodama (‘spirit of a tree’ in Japanese) refers to a feeling of special kinship with the heart of a tree. Live edge furniture is a way of showing respect for the tree, by offering it a second life. Each piece of live edge furniture is a unique work of art, made by craftsmen who have spent years mastering the skill.

There are certain types of wood and wood cutting techniques that go into the creation of live edge furniture. Wood that is ‘deformed’ or gnarly and scarred, and unsuitable for modern, ‘unblemished’ furniture, is usually chosen to make live edge furniture. Some examples include Alligator Juniper, Acacia and Mesquite. Other types of wood that are popularly used are salvaged wood – wood that was considered unfit for use – and reclaimed wood – wood saved from old buildings and furniture and repurposed to make new furniture.

  • Slab – Wood that is cut lengthwise from a tree is known as a slab. This kind of wooden piece usually has a live edge on both sides, and is generally used for coffee and dining tables.
  • Slice – A wood slice or a tree round is cut horizontally from a tree, thus displaying a beautiful live edge all around. The tree’s growth rings can also be seen in this type of wood piece. Wood slices mostly end up as side tables.
  • Burl – One of the more expensive options, burl wood is sourced from trees that have a large, rounded outgrowth. This deformity, called burl, provides us with stunning grain patterns and bumpy edges. Trees commonly sought for their burls include California Redwood, Cherry, Oak, Ash, Elm, Maple and Walnut.
  • Bowties – Also known as butterflies, these are pieces of wood inlaid across cracks in the live edge slab. These bowties add a beautiful dimension to the design, while preventing the cracks from getting wider. Butterfly joints were popularised by George Nakashima, the father of the live edge rebirth era.

Why is live edge furniture so popular?

In the words of renowned interior designer Van Day Treux, in design, Mother Nature is our best teacher. This, in essence, is why more and more people are choosing live edge furniture today, even though it can be quite expensive.

  • Natural is the new normal – Change is the only constant in life. This holds true for furniture trends too. As our lifestyles change, so do our tastes in furniture. In the present ‘go green’ era, natural-finish furniture is in high demand. Since live edge furniture is as natural as furniture can be, its popularity is rapidly increasing.

In today’s frenetic pace of life, all of us want our own haven of peace and calm. What better way to refresh ourselves than to be in the midst of Nature? Live edge furniture gives us just what we need – a slice of Nature in our very homes.

  • Expensive means classy – Have you ever noticed how quality and class are so often associated with the price tag? The more expensive a thing is, the better it must be. From clothes to food to hotels, the same belief prevails. Any live edge product, especially furniture, does not come cheap. As higher price translates to higher class, who wouldn’t want to show off their ‘class’ by displaying live edge furniture in their homes and workplaces?

Why is live edge furniture so expensive? There can be multiple reasons for this. Firstly, each piece of live edge furniture is painstakingly handmade. There is no scope for mass factory production, and skilled craftsmanship comes at a price. Secondly, lumber is expensive. While prices differ from one type of wood to another, the rarer wood naturally sells at a higher price.

  • Longevity – Live edge wood is completely natural, without the addition of plywood or veneers. This makes the wood extremely durable and long-lasting. Moreover, this type of furniture is environment-friendly. Live edge furniture is not made from freshly cut trees, but from trees than were cut down long ago. So, including live edge furniture in your home décor is a great way to do your bit for Mother Nature.
  • Perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality – Live edge furniture has a very high visual appeal. Every piece of carefully crafted furniture celebrates Nature in all its glory. The natural beauty of the tree is retained, while every crack and knot is beautifully incorporated in the final product. The imperfections are like a reflection of life: just like there is no ‘perfect’ life, there is no ‘perfect’ wood.
  • Versatility – Live edge furniture is extremely versatile. There are countless designs and wood patterns for you to choose from. From table tops and kitchen countertops to shelves and décor pieces, there is something for every style of décor.
  • Wood is wow! – There is something magical about wood, that makes it one of the most popular choices for furniture. Furniture trends have significantly changed over the years, but the preference for wood has been a rare constant. This is probably because wood adds a sense of warmth and comfort to a place that no other material can replicate. Is it any wonder that live edge furniture, made from wood in its original form, is in such great demand?

One of the main reasons for the popularity of live edge furniture is its uniqueness. Every piece of furniture is custom-made; no two items are similar. In today’s world of mechanisation and mass production, people crave individuality and uniqueness. That is why all forms of bespoke furniture, and live edge furniture in particular, account for a major portion of the global furniture industry.

The Indian furniture industry is also witnessing an upsurge in demand for live edge furniture. Homes, restaurants, cafes, offices – the demand for unique works of art, and hence live edge furniture, is widespread. To meet this growing demand, Suren Space, a leading furniture designer and manufacturer, has a wide range of live edge furniture to offer. Suren Space, known for quality products, exquisite designs and superb craftsmanship, is a market leader in live edge furniture.

Live edge furniture is our way of reconnecting with our roots. It is the path to rebuild the bond with Mother Nature. As long as we continue to cherish this connection, and as long as there are furniture experts like Suren Space to help us celebrate this friendship, live edge furniture as a trend is here to stay.