After a couple of posts talking about how the weather can get you down, it’s time something more lighthearted: fashion, trends, and new styles that are over a hundred years old.
For several years now, furniture fashion in the U.S. has been riding the wave of the “live edge,” which highlights the natural or waney edge of a board. This creates an organic feel that softens the edge and reminds us of the origins of lumber itself.
Live edges can now be found all over, from custom-made furniture pieces to high-end conference tables to counters and bar-tops in restaurants of all calibers.
To be clear, we love the live edge look, and we aren’t saying that this approach is overdone. Like all design decisions, it can elevate a piece when used properly. In fact, all three Terbovich brothers have live edge pieces of various types on display in their own homes.
Since Horizon has always focused on boule and flitch sawing in a traditional through-and-through pattern, we’ve left the live edge on boards since day one. This approach gives the woodworker the ultimate decision on how to cut and rip their material, even if the live edge eventually gets removed.
But recently, one of the Terbovich brothers stumbled across an interesting piece of furniture while killing time in Anthony’s, a fine arts and antique store in Salt Lake City, UT.
Amidst incredible oil paintings, stained glass from European chapels, and 18th century furniture fit for a king (and a king’s wallet!), this simple table stood out.
According to the staff, this table is an 1800’s French oak table that was recently imported from Europe for sale in their store.
At the time it was made, it would have been a fairly simple and low-cost table. The live edges were less a design feature and more a labor- and material-saving method. It has a patina earned from years of hard use, while many of the store’s more ornate pieces looked as polished as the day they were made.
Looking at this table today, it’s not a far cry from the line up in many furniture stores. The heavy top and live edge is obviously eye-catching. It proudly shows knots and splits, the “rustic” look we see today. A square dutchman, seen at the right edge of the top, covers some defect or knot with a visible wooden patch.
The outdated design elements, to our eyes, are the legs. Granted, they aren’t easily seen in the photos, but they are the only part that feels old-fashioned. This tabletop on a set of simple metal brackets or minimalist, modern wood legs would easily be at home in a contemporary Manhattan design store.
When you see a table like this, you can’t help but think of how today’s fresh fashions are often iterations and echos of past designs.
Just for comparison, here is a carved study that is available at Anthony’s (yes, the entire study was rebuilt inside the store and is for sale). While the workmanship is incredible, it doesn’t quite scream “modern.”
Once you’ve looked to the past and found inspiration for the next big fashion, let us know what wood you need to bring that design to life. We’re happy to provide it, live edge or not.
And while we’re at it, here is some pretty inspiring wood hiding in the basement of Anthony’s.