How do you make a solid block of wood into a comfortable cushion that adapts its shape to the user? Apply a precision cutting system that adds movement and an unexpected give. The secret to the Nikola cushion by Aviv Shany is a cutting method called Kinetica.
The cushion itself is made of pine sheets, joined with invisible bars so they look like a single piece. Once assembled, the wooden mass is carved into an ergonomic cushion shape before being sliced vertically and horizontally, encouraging the wood to shift and move under a user’s weight.
“Kinetic experiments with perception by creating objects that transgress expectations, which surprises people and forces them to cognitively engage with the pieces. Wooden objects are usually associated with qualities such as strength and constancy but Kinetica aims to challenge these preconceptions. The cuts reduce the previously static mass and at the same time transforms it by adding movement and dynamism.”
How many products could actually see an improvement in performance if they were made of wood? As this project proves, bicycles are a perfect example, with a solid wood frame absorbing vibrations for a smoother, more pleasant ride. Amsterdam-based designer Paul Timmer created a bicycle out of solid ash without any veneer or plywood enhancements, and the final product weighs just over 24 pounds.
The single-speed bike features an unusual forked design that results in a refreshingly simple silhouette. The wood is left natural, giving it visual dominance. It’s contrasted with matte black on the wheels, pedals, seat and handlebars.
Timber explains that wood wasn’t used simply because it’s affordable and easily accessible – he chose it because it’s the best material for the job. “It is the only construction material made by mother earth,” he says. “This bike can be as strong as a steel one. But it has to be designed better than a steel bike. As always, the challenges are in the details.”
What other everyday items that are typically made from other materials could be improved by the use of wood?
Eco-friendly wood is now a stylish option for both prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, available in a variety of species and finishes from brands like GROWN, Proof, Drift and Siempre Verde. Unlike plastic frames, wood won’t keep your skin in constant contact with potentially harmful substances like bisphenol-A (BPA). Natural and renewable, wood frames can be designed to show off the material or resemble more conventional eyewear. This trend represents just one more example of wood showing up in places you wouldn’t expect, like luxury cars and as a main material for skyscrapers.
GROWN (pictured above) is a sustainable wooden eyewear brand that funds sight-restoring surgery for one individual, or twelve eye exams for children, for every pair of shades purchased. All GROWN sunglasses are handcrafted from durable bamboo and hardwoods, free of harmful substances.
Proof offers both sunglasses and prescription glasses in a wide range of colors and styles, with frames made from wood, stainless steel, and other eco-friendly materials like plant-based acetate. All eyewear in the Eco Collection is 100% renewable, biodegradable and hypoallergenic, and come in a custom wood case with a microfiber pouch.
Hardwood Frames by Drift Eyewear
Drift eyewear’s Timber Collection is crafted from salvaged hardwood from places like a renovated building in New York City’s Meatpacking District. The frames are carefully designed to have optimal weight distribution on all points that touch the face for the highest comfort level possible.
Prescription Glasses in Wood Frames by Siempre Verde
Siempre Verde sells upscale, handcrafted prescription wood eyewear – including the lenses – with home delivery. That means you don’t have to buy the frames and take them to a local optometrist; you just send in your custom prescription and your eco-friendly wooden eyeglasses will be made just for you.