While Submaterial is certainly best known for our wool felt products: wall coverings, wall art, sculptural objects, and more; we have also utilized wood to great success in numerous custom and retail products over the last few years (more about them in a minute). In 2021, we began dreaming of creating a new line of wall coverings in a material we know and love but have not designed for the commercial market. Wood!
We are excited to introduce the Wood Series, a modular tile-based wood wall covering system fabricated with wood veneer and natural cork!
Wood Series, Gradient with a very sleepy Banjo
Let’s look at some previous Submaterial wood projects!
When Submaterial’s East Coast Territory Manager, Catherine Pelletier, received a call from Daher Interior Design, just such a challenge surfaced. Daher’s designer, Virginia Seherr-Thoss, was working with a Bostonian couple seeking a fireplace surround for their weekend beach house. “Virginia saw a walnut panel on our website,” says Catherine, “and had the idea of using it on the entire fireplace as a focal point.”
The freestanding monumental fireplace was a rectangular column; our panels would wrap entirely around the sizable column, meeting a multi-angled, peaked ceiling. There was one catch: the homeowners wanted it in time for their wedding, weeks away.
First, we sourced the walnut. The job called for hundreds of pieces of wood, so we needed a substantial amount of quality walnut, fast! Hardwood long-grain we sourced locally. But those end-grain pieces needed to be larger than local sources could muster. So, we cast further afield. Thankfully, we found a massive walnut log in Colorado. Felled in Texas, rumor has it that Teddy Roosevelt was once photographed in front of that tree. “So, we got this huge tree,” says Sheldon. “We weren’t set up for dealing with something that size, but we borrowed a chainsaw from one of our employees and we did the mill work here.”
Because our crew wouldn’t be onsite to install the wrap it was critical that the panels not only fit together seamlessly, but also could be trimmed onsite by the client’s contractor for a perfect fit. We built it in long, thin, tongue-and-groove strips with mitered corner pieces. Everything arrived and was installed in time for the big event, and the results were absolutely stunning.
Since the early days of Submaterial, we have played with creating small sculptural objects that referenced natural forms, from pinecones to trees. We have also tested the waters with functional home items that double as beautiful design. And in many of these products wood has been an integral component.
Appropriately the bases of our Murmur Trees as made from solid walnut, holding up the “trunk” and “leaves” of the tree. The trees are created in sets of three, creating the effect of a small grove or stand. The small set is perfect for a desk or mantle, while the large Murmur trees are great as a floor display, bringing a little bit of nature inside.
Similarly, the bases of our Spindle Coaster sets are solid wood as well. The premium solid-stock walnut or white oak plinth has a low-sheen finish to accentuate the beautiful grain, and the six laminated wool felt and cork coasters are organized on a colorful powder-coated spindle. When not in use, it makes a beautiful and simple tablescape sculpture.
Murmur Tree Sets in Small and Large
New Wood Wall Coverings
Sufficed to say we like working with wood, which is why we are so thrilled to have our new wood wall coverings out in the world! Created with the natural and renewable materials that Submaterial values; its easy geometry and precise craftsmanship reflect the ethos of the studio. This wood panel wall decor is fabricated with wood veneer laid over a thick cork core. Like assembling a puzzle, each modular tile holds a piece of the pattern. The bold graphic surface is achieved with lines incised through the wood veneer to reveal the cork below.
Currently, Submaterial offers two designs in the Wood Series (with more to come in Spring 2023). The varying concentrations of vertical lines at random intervals produce a dynamic statement wall of the Gradient design. Faced in white oak veneer and backed with smoked cork, the look is bold and graphic. In the New Angle design, the play of the walnut wood grain and the random, subtle angle cuts that reveal the natural cork below create a lively and modern update to wood wall panels. Both designs of wood panel wall decor are available in any combination of veneer and cork options.
The Wood Series is manufactured by the talented fabricators in Submaterial’s Albuquerque studio. Using natural and sustainable materials and handcraft are important values to Submaterial. The cork substrate of these wood wall coverings is large flake cork in natural and smoked colors. It is a natural, renewable, and sustainable material. For the production of the Wood Series, the studio is prioritizing using responsibly felled and processed domestic woods and taking part in tree-planting programs and partnering with vendors that do the same.