Furniture design

Crickets and Japanese kimonos inspire the Meisen collection’s colourful geometries

British designer Bethan Laura Wood reclaims ideas of femininity with her solo show, Ornate, by blending visual metaphors with vibrant colours.

The latest pieces by Bethan Laura Wood draw from several inspirations, mainly the idea of the boudoir, a woman’s private space for both spiritual contemplation and physical cultivation. Originally developed for Nilufar Gallery in Milan, they also celebrate a decade of dialogue between the designer and gallerist Nina Yashar. 

As such, the Meisen collection—comprising two cabinets and a desk—invites the viewer to experience the many cities and cultures Wood has been privileged to explore over the last ten years. One such country is Japan and the Kimono, a traditional Japanese garment and the national dress of Japan.

The Meisen collection transports you to Japan through the eyes of design Bethan Laura Wood – © Emanuele Tortora

Inspired by this, the Meisen cabinets and desk explore the process of wood veneers to create a dynamic play of colour and shape. All three pieces have been created using techniques developed in collaboration with Italian specialist Alpi, which realised Wood’s vision of a vibrant surface reminiscent of Meisen, a material that Japanese kimonos were made out of in the early 1900s. 

Fascinated by the complex compositions Alpi could create, Wood hand-selected each sheet of veneer, to showcase ripples and depict a unique moment in the fabrication process. “The feathered edges of each colour wave created by the natural wood grain resemble the shimmering, almost vibrating, patterns of the weft and warp in Ikat weaving, which are used to produce Meisen fabric,” Wood explains.

This Mesh Panel collection employs Alpi for the material for some of its pieces, don’t miss From sunrise to sunset: WOOD-SKIN Mesh Panels transport you to new dimensions in the Dolomites.

To balance out the pattern, the designer incorporated forms inspired by entomology, in particular quoting the legs and antennae of crickets and the patterned elytron of beetles. 

Driven by her attraction for colour and patterns, Wood’s aesthetic is loved the world over, particularly by Yashar where Wood has showcased her unique designs time and time again. On this occasion, they were also partly informed by Wood’s love of costume jewellery, beginning as an exploration into hardware and handles

Meisen collection - color details
The feathered pattern is balanced out by the forms that shape the pieces, which are inspired by creatures typically found in Japanese visual culture – © Bethan Laura Wood (top) & Emanuele Tortora

The project would later develop into a furniture series which, according to the designer, are an attempt to highlight the value of ornamentation, rather than have it written off as overly feminine and superfluous.

The implementation of ornamentation is a complex exercise in design, check out these tasteful pieces by Visionaire Visionnaire blurs the lines between art and design.

Meisen collection - closeup
The Meisen collection is an attempt to highlight the values of ornamentation, which is often written off as feminine and superfluous – © Emanuele Tortora