It might seem hard to fall in love with something as pleasantly monikered as bog oak, but one look at British furniture maker Adrian Swinstead’s designs and home owners swoon. The musician-come-wood worker fashions unique furniture using the rarefied material, using innovative design concepts, modern materials and ancient, found pieces of wood to blend the old and the new in one exquisite piece of furniture.
Many in Southern California may be unfamiliar with the material of bog oak, particularly because it originates in the oak forests of Britain. It is in this unique locale that the acidic peat soil has preserved fallen trunks of oak trees for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Swinstead hunts for these pieces and usually finds them under six or so feet of soil.
“It is quite a wonderful process which involves walking around with a big piece of wood and thumping the ground,” he said to The Wall Street Journal. “When you get a really resonant thud, a sort of echo from the ground, it means you have found a piece of bog oak.”
After extricating the wood from the earth, Swinstead gets to work translating this ancient artifact into something useful and beautiful by modern standards. Swinstead draws on his background as a carpenter during his lean early years as a musician. But unlike his work on homes in the U.K., building kitchens and cupboards, the projects that yield his beautiful works take many years to see to completion. Once found, each piece of wood must be left out to season, or dry out, for at least five years before it can be fashioned into a piece of furniture.
One-Of-A-Kind Material Determines Its Own Destiny As Home Furniture Piece
After monitoring his collection of bog oak for at least five years, Swinstead develops an intimate relationship and knowledge of his pieces. The complex timeline allows the craftsman to really come to understand his material, every ridge, furrow and fissure. This knowledge allows Swinstead to craft a design piece that is truly evocative of the nature of the piece and its vast history on the earth.
“When Buddha was on the earth this tree was already 2,000 years old,” he said, indicating a bench that had just been completed.
Swinstead’s most-loved design by home owners is his trademark bench, which can range anywhere from $4,900 to $9,000 each. Swinstead also fashions cabinets, tables and doors out of the reclaimed wood and sculptures out of tangled webs of ancient roots. He likes to keep his designs simple and unadorned, letting the wood speak for itself and for the home owner who chooses to incorporate the piece in their daily life.
“The story is the texture of the tree, its cracks,” he said. “I would not want to make it more ornate—it is a minimalistic design ethic which is about the material and not the cleverness of the maker.”
If you are interested in learning about the exquisite homes of Newport Beach, please contact our team of property experts today.