Sculptform Showroom in Melbourne Shows Off Innovative Timber Cladding System

Wood is one of humanity’s oldest building materials, with a reputation for making our built environments feel more connected to nature. But it’s also the material of the future, especially in the face of advancing climate change. New technologies and innovations are transforming this age-old traditional material for exciting new forms and purposes while keeping it sustainable, renewable and biodegradable. That means the warmth, richness and environmental friendliness of wood can shape-shift into the most unexpected things. Mass timber is enabling the construction of wooden skyscrapers of unprecedented heights, and wood is even being used as the basis for clothing fibers and car parts.

A new showroom for Sculptform shows off one of the best contemporary combos that currently exist: modular wood components and computer-aided design. Sculptform makes curved timber battens that integrate into a click-on system for incredibly fast installation, moulded in their Australian factory and shaped with either kerfing or steam bending. Steam-bending is a traditional technique using heat and moisture to form wood to a desired shape without resistance, which holds in place as it cools. Kerfing makes small cuts in the back of the timber batten so it fan flex around a substructure to create forms or curves.

Both processes enable the design of spectacularly complex interior spaces where wood seems to flex, pool and undulate in shapes that were once unachievable. Perhaps a master sculptor could carve raw wood into these amazing configurations, but it would certainly take a lot longer than Sculptform’s system, which uses patented clip connections and mounting tracks to complete large commercial installations.

All of this is on display at Sculptform’s Melbourne showroom, designed by architecture studio Woods Bagot. Doubling as workspace, meeting space and collaboration space for staff, the facility applies the company’s bent timbers to virtually every surface in sight, including walls, ceilings, banisters, railings, bulkheads and tunnel-like pathways.

“Sculptform’s name inspired the design team to explore a concept for sequencing these spaces that was both immersive and sculptural,” explained Woods Bagot. “What visitors experience in the showroom is a physical and tactile connection to Sculptform’s products, processes and their makers – something that can’t be found online.”

Plywood Brings a Clean Contemporary Look to an Office Remodel

Plywood office building remodel Portugal

Finish-grade plywood has a simple, clean beauty to it that can help refresh interior spaces in need of an update. A3A Arquitetos Associados made ample use of it at the Herdade dos Toucinhos Office Building in Portugal, completely transforming the layout of the existing building with new modular built-in units. Serving as the headquarters of an agricultural company as well as communal housing for farm workers, the building has to be multifunctional and use the available space wisely.

Plywood office building remodel Portugal upper level

First and foremost, the architects lifted the roof and added skylights to take full advantage of abundant natural light during the day. This made room for a new intermediate mezzanine level that essentially doubles the building’s floor space. Instead of framing it out conventionally with drywall, they chose to create plywood-clad volumes that stand independently in the center of the building. 

Plywood office building remodel Portugal new rooms
Plywood office building remodel Portugal built in

These new volumes divide up the wide open space of the building, creating a perimeter of hallways, interior spaces, ceilings for the lower level and a platform for the mezzanine. They include built-in storage, closets, benches, desks and lighting and lack any unnecessary hardware for a unified, uncluttered result. All exterior walls were maintained in their original condition to preserve the character of the building.

Plywood office building remodel Portugal mezzanine
Plywood office building remodel Portugal exterior

“This project embraces a modern, contemporary design, which starts from the analysis of tradition and its reinterpretation, its simplification and clarification, in a global strategy that aims to be minimalist and highly effective in functionally optimizing and preserving tradition.”

Pine Mezzanine Adds a New Room to a Small Apartment

When you’re living in a tiny apartment, every square inch counts. Finding space to carry out all your daily functions and store your belongings can be challenging, but there’s one nearly foolproof way to solve the problem: just look up. Making use of empty vertical space can dramatically alter how large a room feels, especially when you’re able to create new built-in furniture and storage solutions like this one.

Hao Design pine mezzanine gabled entry
Hao Design pine mezzanine stairs

In Taiwan, Hao Design completed a wooden bridge-like mezzanine out of pine plywood that includes stairs, bookshelves, drawers and a work table while also connecting the master bedroom to a new walk-in wardrobe.

Hao Design pine mezzanine wardrobe

Prior to the renovation, the apartment was just one level, with a single bedroom. The redesign takes advantage of the full height of the space and strategically places new surfaces around windows to magnify incoming natural light. The lofted bedroom platform features a clear Plexiglas wall to keep it feeling bright and spacious, and the new closet is situated on top of the first-floor bathroom. 

Hao Design pine mezzanine workstation

The combination of the loft platform, bookshelves and new work area under the stairs pack a lot of uses into what might otherwise be wasted space. Even the undersides of the steps offer a place to store books and other items.

Hao Design pine mezzanine kitchen

The designers continue the pine plywood theme throughout the apartment, including the hallway, living room and open-plan kitchen for a cohesive result. It’s a great example of how a simple, inexpensive material like plywood can elevate a space, bringing in natural color and texture that gives the home warmth and character.

Amazing Wooden Staircases, from Sculptural Spirals to Modern Floating Styles

One of the best things about wood as a building material is it’s so malleable. Take staircases, for instance: using nothing but wood, you can achieve an incredible array of shapes and effects. Fancy something that looks like a hand-carved work of art? You can have it (at a price, of course.) Envisioning something a little more minimalist? From floating boxes to clever storage stairs, there’s no shortage of inspiration out there to spur a creative idea of your own. Here are some of the coolest examples on the internet.

atmos stairstalk

Is this the most impressive wooden staircase on the entire internet? Maybe. Standing as a grand centerpiece at London’s HIDE Restaurant, the incredible “Stairstalk” design by Atmos Studio is absolutely breathtaking.

wooden timber stacked stairs

Reminiscent of the game Jenga, this minimalist staircase for a barn home in Flanders, Belgium by Studio Farris integrates storage space for books and other small items.

Stair slide mahogany

Can’t choose between a slide or a staircase? Have both! This design by Scott Jones was custom carved from mahogany.

atmos cnc stairs

Made of CNC-cut plywood, this gorgeous staircase designed by Atmos for a London apartment sort of looks like a tree spreading its limbs into the building’s various floors.

JDN spiral staircase

This spiraling residential staircase by JDN uses a typical metal frame you can find from staircase suppliers or at architectural salvage depots, and adds wood treads for a warmer feel. Photographed by Jack Newton.

wood spine staircase jouin

It’s hard to resist calling this design “spine-tingling.” Designed by Patrick Jouin, this design spirals the curved treads around a serpentine central support with an effect resembling twisted vertebrae. The glass and metal banister makes it airy and open, showing off the best part of the design.

plywood storage stairs

These puzzle-like storage stairs feature niches for display and giant drawers to store shoes and other items in a small apartment in Bordeaux, France by L’atelier Miel.

wooden nest stairs strasbourg

Another staircase by Patrick Jouin, this one located at Strasbourg Hotel’s restaurant in France, wraps a curving wooden staircase with strips of wood for a dramatic nest-like effect. 

void staircase guido ciompi

The Void Staircase by Guido Ciompi for the Gray Hotel in Milan, Italy features hollow steps that could also be used as shelving. From some angles, they appear to float.

Design with Pine: Get Inspiration from This Unique Room Divider

Now that the pandemic has shifted the way we interact with each other, especially indoors, room dividers are a hot topic. If you need to create some safe separation at your business, office or even at home, you might be looking for creative ways to divide up the space that also look nice.

Here’s a great example that can provide some inspiration for your DIY project (or, if you’re not that handy, show it to your contractor!). Architects Juan Alberto Andrade and Maria Jose Vascones have created a room within a room for technology services company Mendotel, allowing employees to safely host meetings and workspace within an open office. 

“The work dynamics were analysed, getting as a result an office and sales location with different levels of privacy,” said the architects.”With a reduced space, the reticulated shelf was partitioned with glass divisions from floor to ceiling, which provides solid privacy but allows visual permeability throughout the place, creating a new interior facade.”

Theoretically, as long as everyone is wearing masks, employees can gain an extra level of protection from visitors – and vice versa – by opening up these window-like partitions. The architects crafted the walls out of pine lumber, glass and oriented strand board, but you could adapt it with plywood, plexiglass or other materials you have handy or prefer to work with.

Instead of looking like it came straight out of a hospital or creating an atmosphere that’s less than welcoming, these pine partition walls have a graphic architectural look to them, adding something visually cool to the ambiance of the space.

Warm Wood and Neo-Traditionalism: Design Trends for 2020

warm wood eastern white pine floor

It’s 2020, and new interior decor trends are already ramping up! If you’ve been yearning for a return to traditionalism, you’re in luck. Designers and trend watchers have some interesting predictions for the year, and many of them pertain to wood.

Farmhouse and Colonial Styles

farmhouse style

American classics like the Windsor chair never really went anywhere, but colonial and farmhouse styles will be more visible than ever this year thanks to renewed popularity. “Farmhouse-style home” was one of Google’s top search terms of 2019, characterized by simple, rustic pieces made primarily of wood and metal. Something tells us Joanna and Chip Gaines have something to do with this…

For colonial style inspiration, check out our extensive library of White Pine Monographs, which are full of photos of colonial homes!

Hello, Warm Wood!

A love for Scandinavian modern minimalism has led to the popularity of very pale blonde and ash wood tones in recent years, while warm wood stains and finishes were out of fashion. Expect to see a lot more oak, cherry, walnut and “pumpkin pine” shades in design magazines and on HGTV this year as trends lean back toward rich, cozy and inviting atmospheres.

Pine takes warm brown stains beautifully, especially if you love a textural, rustic finish. All the better to complement your new farmhouse-style dining table, huh?

A Return to Heirlooms

windsor chair

Cheap, IKEA-style furniture that doesn’t last is out. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Longevity is in” instead. Nobody wants a piece of furniture that’s going to fall apart within a year or two, so more people are saving up for heirloom-quality pieces that can be handed down over generations. That’s great news for craftspeople, and it goes hand in hand with a renewed love for colonial-style pieces.

Responsibly Sourced Materials


Homeowners are growing more environmentally conscious just as responsibly sourced wood is easier to access than ever. People want materials with traceable origins, and many “are seeking natural wood floors certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets standards for responsible forest management, and floors that are finished with nontoxic wax or oil,” according to

And while we’re on the topic of wood floors – this year’s trends include high variation in darks and lights, lots of hard scraped and distressed textures, natural finishes and creative patterns like herringbone and diagonal. Flooring Inc. says people will be looking for wide planks this year, preferably crafted from sustainable and American-made wood. Check out this gorgeous “hit or miss” Eastern White Pine floor from Carlisle as a great example.

Read more about the sustainability of Eastern White Pine and what makes wood responsibly sourced.