Woven Wood Wallcovering is an extraordinary product made of natural wood. It is sliced into strips of incredible thinness, just 0.16mm, and then dyed and woven to display the beautiful grain of Paulownia wood. The natural sheen of the material and the woven texture create unique multifaceted and animating effects; it reflects lights to various directions and the colour looks differently in each angle.
Paulownia wood has been an indispensable material in Japan for centuries. It has been made into furniture, clogs and building material because of its light weight, superb pliancy and imperviousness to humidity. Paulownia chests are regarded to be of the highest quality; a Japanese tradition is to plant a tree when a daughter is born and have it made into a chest for her wedding. The wall covering is a sublime combination of the familiar wood and Japanese precision technology.
Aizu in northern Japan is known as the home of superb quality Paulownia. When less expensive Paulownia wood from Southeast Asia was introduced 50 years ago, the industry in Aizu responded by producing engineered wood; they bonded sliced Aizu Paulownia to imported material of lesser quality. It was the beginning of their fine slicing technology. It is an ingenious idea to make a wallpaper which shows off the technique and natural sheen of Paulownia.
The design is so simple; it is just a basket weave of wooden strips, however, it was well received. It came second in the first International Design and Architecture Awards in 2011 in London. It was not a winner, but I really hoped that lifted spirits of the supplier who was badly hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. You may remember a vivid image of huge tsunami swallowing towns and a fear of disaster with the Fukushima Nuclear Plants. The supplier’s workshop was not hit by the tsunami because it was safe up on the mountain. However, stigma did. Carton marks carried the name of prefecture “Fukushima”. Export business, which was the majority of the shares, suffered tremendously. It took three years for the business to go back to the normal level while some people still live away from home to this day.