Grain


The chair is probably the only thing actually made out of wood in this whole office.


With nothing else to do, and no inspiration to light up my imagination, I found myself staring into space. This might have proved to be a more interesting pastime if the ‘space’ in question had any kind of a view, but since I was in the office it consisted of plain walls, florescent lighting, and industrial carpeting. All in all, an acceptably bland workspace environment: I don’t believe that offices need to be quirky or unique to be functional. I’d probably find a ‘creative workspace’ distracting: open floor plans and beanbag chairs do not particularly spark my ‘process’. 

At any rate, I found myself staring at the door. It was a typical interior office door: an uninterrupted panel of blonde colored wood with a silver lever for a handle. I knew that the handle wasn’t silver and that the door wasn’t wood: I presumed that they were brushed steel and particle board, but they looked nice. I let my eyes trail over the pattern of the wood grain until I found an interesting area of motif that I could admire for its striations of light and dark.  I admired it for a moment. Then I realized that the same motif repeated itself a few inches to the right of the original.  I did not find this surprising: often wood grain veneers are made by shaving a piece of wood into one long roll of paper-thin sheeting that can be flattened out and glued onto partical board to give the impression of actual wood. The spiral cutting naturally involves some repetition. 

This, however, was different: the motif didn’t vary as the pattern progressed, and in fact, the exact same motif repeated itself at alternating intervals above and below the one that had caught my eye: it wasn’t wood at all, it was a carefully designed printout. 

I shouldn’t have found this surprising, but somehow I still did. At some point, real wood of any kind became too expensive to make interior office doors out of, but we as humans still like the look of word grain- and like it so much that we would rather print out a wood grain pattern to pretend that we still use the real thing than to just accept that the door is made out of… whatever it is that it is made out of.

Is it wood itself that appeals to us, I wonder. Is it the fiction that we are still connected to the natural world that we cling to? Or is there some advantage to wood that we are trying to capitalize on? Does it imply strength? Does it disguise scuff marks? Why bother with the pretense? The world may never know.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 7, 2017.

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