Design adapted to the changing shape of palmwood

by: Mirjam Visser, 2010-12-13 11:58:32 UTC
Sustainability Aspects: Palmwood is a fast growing wood in Vietnam. The difficulty of using it is that it easily bends and changes shape. Piet Hein Eek and the local Vietnamese woodworkers designed the shapes in such a way that whatever happens the product don't change.

baskets and bowls

Palmwood baskets

Palmwood is for Vietnamese woodworkers a great and fast growing wood. It however easily changes shape when it ages. By using thin, connected beams Piet Hein Eek, known for his reclaimed wood furniture, solved this problem. They can shrink or expand, the product stays intact. Normally the shrinking and expanding is a big problem. The climate is humid and they lack the necessary ovens to dry the wood before production. As soon as the product arrives in the northern hemisphere it starts bending. Making use of this knowledge Piet Hein designed the baskets, plates and bowl in such a way that the thin beams are strung together.

To assemble the first product was pretty complex. Eek send in drawings that were impossible to read and the stringing of the wooden parts is detailed work. The whole village assembled to have a look at what was going on, everyone wanted to be part of it. At a certain moment a fisherman joined in to help. He was able to tighten the fishing string and tighten it as well. The son and daughter of the woodworker, both on holidays, joined in and showed how best to string them together. In this atmosphere 4 pair of hands worked as one pair and produced a beautiful basked. This is how seven prototypes were developed.

Piet Hein Eek doesn’t like travelling but couldn’t say no when asked by Dutch Design in Development (DDiD) to go to Vietnam to work with the producers of Fair Trade Original. Interesting was that he could design products that use a lot of manual work where normally this is not the case.

Designer: Piet Hein Eek
Manufacturer: Fair Trade
Category: Fair trade, Palm wood, sustainable material


baskets and bowls
High Basket
Low basket
baskets and bowls
By Piet Hein Eek for Fair Trade

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