I don’t often feature Belgian design – those Scandinavians are always stealing the limelight in these parts – but there’s one furniture brand that I think should be on your radar. Introduced to me while on the Function & Form bloggers tour in Antwerp, Ethnicraft produces simple, functional furniture with a focus on timeless, contemporary design.
Established more than 20 years ago, Ethnicraft is based in the Belgian town of Boom, with workshops in Indonesia, Vietnam and Serbia. Popular across the world, their sustainable designs, from extendable oak tables through versatile walnut benches to vintage-looking teak sideboards, are sold in more than 50 countries.
They like to call their furniture ‘Emorational’ – a word combining both the ’emotional’ and the ‘rational’. Made predominantly of ethically sourced wood, their simple designs aim to evoke a sense of emotion, through the warmth and tactility of solid wood.
As they say: ‘We always work from what we firmly believe is the essence of good design: authenticity, simplicity and impeccable craftsmanship to create sustainable pieces full of character, made from oak, teak and walnut.
Behind the simplicity of our furniture lies a constant drive for innovation. Our product development team is always on the lookout for new techniques and tools for processing wood. Each new design is revised and reworked down to the tiniest detail.’
Here are some of my favourite designs of theirs…
Additions – Perfect companions
The mid-century style N101 sofa in ash grey (main image, at the top) caught my eye, while the armchair above looks like a comfy addition to any living space, whether clean and minimal or bold and busy. A cream sofa appeals to the classicists amongst us and a black leather Saloon sofa to the design buffs out there.
Oak – Let nature speak for itself
Ethnicraft’s oak designs are strong, functional and sturdy. Made of French and Serbian oak, they’re timeless and built to last – the patina of the wood is sure to only get better with age as the years go by. New to the collection this year, the N3 bench (below), designed by Singapore-based designer Nathan Yong, is elegant and simple.
The smooth-edged Osso table (below) was designed by Grain and Green, an interior design studio based in Indonesia and Singapore. It was first manufactured in walnut, but is now available in oak and dark blackstone finishing.
Teak – Strength and texture
Ethnicraft’s teak wood furniture has a warm patina and texture that makes it appealing for those statement pieces such as sideboards and beds.
Their teak wood comes from two main sources. It is partly reclaimed from neglected buildings and old warehouses from the island of Central Java in Indonesia. But Ethnicraft also works closely together with the Indonesian government body in charge of managing the teak plantations originally set up by the Dutch some 150 years ago. The agency monitors annual replanting as well as the size and quantity of trees felled each year.
The Skelet rack (below) is a functional design for kitchen storage and book displays, while the PC console table is a slim design suitable for hallways or small offices.
Ethnicraft uses American black walnut from well-managed forests in the USA. With its gently tapering legs, the Osso stool has a mid-century look to it, while the Air bed in walnut provides a generous headboard to lean back on.
So are the designs of Ethnicraft new to you? Which are your favourite?
All images: courtesy Ethnicraft