Designing with Oak

Designing with Oak

There are over six hundred species of oak in the world, two-hundred and fifty of which are in North America. Each acorn contains only one seed, which takes six to eighteen months to mature.


The production of these little nuts is affected by the weather.  For reasons that are not entirely understood, every two to five years all of the oak trees in a region will have what is called a mast year. During these times, they produce hundreds of times more acorns than in other years, littering the ground with far more seeds than woodland creatures can consume.

Oak trees tend to be taller than surrounding trees, and therefore draw lightning strikes. In mythology, Oak is the lightning tree; the tree of Zeus and Thor. A tree with a mysterious power.

The earliest discovered wooden plank ship, the Hjortspring boat, was built around 400 BC, and its strange design, with curved beams extending upwards in tandem from the bowline and waterline, has never been fully explained.

Later designs, like the iconic Viking longboats, used oak quarter-split and riveted together in the overlapping clinker style, sturdy and durable. The values and roots of Mid-Century Modern Scandinavian design are clearly visible in this craftwork: simple structures with refined, elegant forms, meant to endure.




Strong and dense, but light in color and with rich banding, Oak is the obvious wood of workday choice for structures both utilitarian and imaginative. All of the Oak we use in the production of our Founding line of furniture is either “young oak” that has been sustainably harvested, or old stuff that, much like the Hjortspring boat, has been pulled out of a bog.

Oak isn’t an infinite resource — each piece comes from a real tree, discrete and finite. Young oak, is of course, not so young at all: some of the oak we use comes from tree farms in Denmark that were planted over a hundred years ago. A piece of Oak furniture from us should last at least as long.

by Sam Dwyer

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