Woodbender Chairs: Perfecting the art of bending wood
November 02, 20224 min read
A SMALL, FAMILY BUSINESS WITH AN OLD-WORLD TRADITION
Woodbender is a family-owned and run business started by the Mast family in 1988. Inspired by the old-world tradition of bending solid wood, the family have spent the last three decades building specialized machinery and experimenting with different timbers and designs to create a unique collection of bentwood chairs and stools.
THE ART OF WOOD BENDING
Woodbending is a combination of art and science. The science is in the type of wood used, the diameter of the plank and also the steaming time and method. The bending process allows the wood to be manipulated in a way that defies logic. To compliment the science, an intuitive skill and an artistic touch is required in order for the bending to be successful.
STRENGTH, DURABILITY, BEAUTY & SUSTAINABILITY
Bending wood was first done by hand in the late 18th century in Europe and was used for making sleighs, tools and later furniture. There are many benefits of this method. First and foremost, superior strength and durability. Bending solid timber into the required shapes reduces component parts required and as a result the product contains less joints, and therefore less potential weak points.
As opposed to cutting out shapes and interrupting the grain of the wood, the bent components preserve the beauty of the grain and the inherent strength of the wood. It also results in less wood waste. Aside from the structural and sustainable benefits of using solid bentwood parts, it also offers unique styling and design opportunities.
NOT ALL WOODS CAN BEND, BUT ASH IS IDEAL
The Woodbender Collection is created from Ash timber which has been sourced from sustainable certified forests. What makes Ash so sustainable? It is one of the fastest-growing hardwood trees, and in addition is also self-seeding, meaning it grows prolifically.
Not all woods can bend, but hardwoods like Ash, are perfect for bending because of their strength, minimal breakages and beautiful natural light tone. Chairs and stools made from Ash also wear well and have a classic, timeless elegance, which can be passed on to future generations
DESIGNS INSPIRED BY AFRICA
The Woodbender range features 3 beautiful designs, The Kariba, the Makuti and the Vuti, all of which take their name from small towns near the shores of Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba. The Kariba chairs and stools started out as an experiment in a quest to meet the need for seating that is both compact and comfortable. With a tilted backrest and sloping arms, the Kariba allows for easy relaxation around the dining table. The statement silhouette is an amalgamation of two styles, staying true to the minimalist trend while incorporating a distinctly Southern African aesthetic.
The armless design of the Makuti range means these chairs and stools are easy to get in and out of - especially useful in a crowded space such as a busy bar or dining room. They can also be neatly tucked underneath a dining room table and bar counter so that they take up less floor space.
The Vuti Chair is a true expression of sophisticated simplicity, taking space-saving form and functionality to the next level. The Vuti can tuck closely to a table apron or thick tabletop. Its simplicity, clean lines and open back create an airy, lighter space, especially in smaller areas.
HANDMADE TO YOUR SPECIFICATION
Each Woodbender chair is fully customizable and handmade to your precise specification. They can be upholstered in a fabric of your choice and are available in any of Woodbender’s 15 timber finishes. Upholstering dining chairs in fabric allows you to play with texture and prints, bringing exciting design elements into any space without overwhelming a small area. We will work closely with you and liaise with the Woodbender team to ensure the final product is perfectly suited to your unique space.
SPECIALISTS IN COMMERCIAL & HOSPITALITY FURNITURE
Woodbender furniture is designed for high traffic hospitality spaces where chairs and stools are put to the test and need to withstand rigorous use whilst remaining stylish and comfortable. The designs are sleek, space saving too. The company have specialized in contract furniture for over 30 years and their chairs have featured in some of the world’s finest and most beautifully designed commercial spaces.
Woodbender Kariba dining chairs in Jeru Restaurant, London
BAR VS. COUNTER STOOLS: CHOOSING THE CORRECT HEIGHT
Woodbender stools come in bar and counter height. Did you know that there is a difference? If you answered “no”, you’re not alone. The combination of stool height and counter height is about more than just looks – an incorrect stool height impacts how people feel when taking a seat, both psychologically and physically.
The good news is that calculating the correct height is a fairly simple task. Keep in mind that the optimum height for comfortable seating is 230-330mm of space between the countertop and the top of your seat. This allows people to comfortably cross their legs under the table if they wish to do so.
Woodbender bar stools in Conchilla Restaurant, South Africa
Kitchen counters and islands are typically in the range of 860-990mm in height, although the standard height is 910.50mm. A stool with a seat height of 61-66cm would work best for this application. Bar counters and tables are 1020-1090mm in height but can be higher. Opt for a stool with a seat height of 710-810mm.
WHY WE LOVE WOODBENDER
We are fascinated by the alchemy of woodbending and love that this centuries-old technique is being preserved by Woodbender. Each chair is crafted by hand and is therefore as unique as the process and people that make them. As well as their striking looks, these chairs are also outstandingly durable, long-lasting and comfortable, winning on all fronts! It’s no surprise you can find these chairs in so many beautifully designed commercial spaces. Whether you are looking for chairs for a residential home or a hospitality space, let us help you bring your vision to life.