The rough, intentionally rugged concrete skins of Brutalist buildings were meant to record the process by which they were made. The wood plank formwork used to mold the walls imprinted on their surfaces a textured, abrasive quality in a manner that re-infused contemporary architecture with the type of craftsmanship that had been banned at the commencement of the Modernist project. This ‘honest’ expression of building coveted fidelity to the inherent ‘character’ of the material at hand–an aesthetic imperative that could only be upheld through the thoughtful act of physical making. This same pathos is evident in the work of designer Hilla Shamia, whose “wood casting” furniture hybridizes organic material with abstract forms using industrial techniques.
To create her pieces, Shamia takes a whole tree trunk and incorporates it into steel tables, chairs, and stools. First, molten aluminum is spread over the wood, scorching the surface; the log is then sectioned into square forms, which according to the designer, “intensifies the artificial feeling, and in the same time keeps the memory of the material.” The individual sections are paired with differently sized frames–ranging from a coffee table to night stand–used to cast the metal body of the furniture. The hot liquid metal is poured into the molds, which are removed once the aluminum has cooled and set to reveal the now-sutured log and metal legs, enjoined by a dark band of char. Each piece is unique, with the metal “leakage” varying from one product to another. ”Wood Casting” is currently on show at the Milan Design Week 2012.