Natural wood finishes will have a huge impact in the following years within the automotive and product industry. The trend up until recently was to finish wood with a smooth, flawless gloss top. These shiny finishes remove all of the character from wood and create a lifeless piece that very well could have just been plastic. Glossy finishes are extremely harsh while natural woods create a softer more tactile appearance. And with technology becoming more prevalent in everyday fashion and personal surroundings, a softer approach to materials is necessary to become a natural part of the consumer’s life.
Mercedes-Benz has begun to implement beautiful naturally finished woods to their interiors. Home interiors have been leading the trend much longer than the automotive industry. Tables, chairs and cabinets made from reclaimed wood have been extremely popular in the past few years. But we have yet to see the full extent of natural wood use on our personal products; speakers, computers, appliances, etc. There is much more warmth to the beauty of natural wood that comes through without the application of mans touch layered on top. Interesting effects can be achieved through the use of raw wood. But that isn’t to say that it should always be left completely unprocessed. Just don’t let finishing processes over shadow the beauty of nature.
We are also seeing a transition back to lighter woods again. Not so much bleached wood but natural light woods such as ash or oak. While some of these woods may sound dated, they are made fresh through the different types of cuts. A more modern straight grain cut will make a seemingly dated wood current. Quarter cut wood can create some clean modern wood grain. Something as simple as how the wood is cut can dramatically alter one’s perception of it’s use and its relevancy.
Wood, unfortunately, does not make it onto enough products. Cost and sustainability can be major hurdles. But there is something emotive about connecting to one’s natural environment through touch. It is good to see nonverbal statements made about how disconnected we have become to our environment, both literally and figuratively through the use of natural wood.