We, at Brandler London, possess both an appreciation for aged wood and fine craftsmanship. As a result, we appreciate the incredible beauty of the centuries-old wooden architecture of Kyoto, Japan.
The city features architectural masterpieces exemplifying the art of Japanese joinery. Many modern masters still use these ancient techniques in woodworking. However, we concentrate on how these constructions show the amazing qualities developed in weathered and aged wood. As cabinet makers specialising in reclaimed wood, we need to understand how differences in tone, texture, and colour came about to each piece of material. We must learn to develop designs with historic materials in a modern context.
In 2014, Brandler London’s design director, Chris Brandler, visited Kyoto and documented his trip in these photographs.
These wood planks and columns not only show the age of centuries, but also they show the impact of the sun, water, humans, and even gravity in their appearance. Vertical members fade from warm red to chalky grey in a matter of metres, showing just how powerful environmental factors can be on these materials. Door handles show the traces of human touch with oiled highlights. Patterns developed with time to show just how important conscious choices made about materials are in woodworking and joinery.
Kyoto is a city that immensely values its history. UNESCO named the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto a World Heritage Site. Of Japan’s National Treasures, nearly a fifth of them exist in Kyoto. The city possesses approximately two thousand shrines and temples. (Source) The city, country, and world prioritise protecting these historic structures. Even in World War II in the midst of great international conflict, both domestic and foreign decision makers protected Kyoto due to its cultural importance.
To conclude, these landmarks raise a couple questions for us:
- What happens to these aged wood materials when the historic architecture isn’t deemed worth saving?
- How can these materials be reclaimed and used in a modern context without losing their hard-earned character?
Our portfolio of work in reclaimed wood continues to grow in constant pursuit of answering that question.