Wood is one of the most difficult and finicky materials to work with, but it’s also one of the most versatile and beautiful. Did you know that it can take years to come close to mastering its manipulation?
Lemiski's Credenza sideboard is one of my favourite pieces, and definitely one of the most impressive. The delicately precise, yet sturdy frame is cut from black walnut - strong, but most famously known for the lovely dark chocolate pigment of its heartwood. The four large panels were joined with a miter joint [cut at forty-five degrees], to achieve the cleanest and most seamless connection of the main body.
To accentuate and contrast the walnut, the sliding door was made from zebrawood as an accent – an expensive and exotic species, native to Central America, characterized by its zebra stripe-like grain pattern. The door has an elegant but simple recess on the upper right for grip.
The finish used (though unspecified) is most likely a combination of linseed oil, Danish oil, and/or polyurethane. The oils add darkness and depth to the wood grain, and bring out its most prominent highlights, while the polyurethane is absorbed by the grain, creating a layer of protection against moisture and cracking, as well as UV rays.
The form of the piece parades a somewhat retro tone, reminiscent of the post-modernist trend of long, slanted legs and a somewhat elongated, low profile overall. The fusion of natural materiality and modern form is a fond reminder of Frank Lloyd Wright, and also an excellent example of his influence.
It’s clear that Paul Lemiski is also very conscientious of the quality and character of the wood itself. Instead of attaching some sort of handgrip on the drawers, he simply left a knot as a recessed indent to be pulled back as a handle, or just marveled upon from a distance. The deliberate application of the beautiful idiosyncrasies of this particular slab of walnut shows not only an understanding of the make-up of the grain, but the compositional value it can have when positioned well.
In short, the Credenza is a short, but sweet cocktail of visual simplicity, and sophisticated elegance in design and craft.
For more amazing woodworking, you can check out Canadian Woodworks.
All photographs provided by Canadian Woodworks.
Researched and Written by Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University