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When wood met metal

The story of: Carter

This season we say hello to Carter. A collection of tables from console to coffee, it’s our first design that toes the industrial line. Yes it has a contemporary-ness to it because of its slim, sharp lines but that’s not the real reason for its loft-style looks; traditional forms can be just as industrialised (think rugged wooden watermill wheel tables with heavy cast iron elements for example). It’s about the material mix. Wood and metal have met before. Many times. But never in these circumstances.

This is a new chapter in the story of when wood met metal.

Let’s rewind. Briefly. Wood has always been at the heart of furniture making. We know tree stumps were the Prehistoric version of a dining table and chairs, and as the centuries ticked by, wood stood its ground firmly. Metal on the other hand was a bit of a newcomer. The Ancient Egyptians dabbled with decadent metals, but for ornamentation and nothing more. Later, in Ancient Rome, they started to experiment a little more and began to mix wood, metal and stone, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that steel began to make strides. Marcel Breuer (the Bauhaus furniture designer and architect) had started to play with tubular steel. He was struck by the strength and lightweight nature of a bicycle’s handlebars. It was his early work, amongst other designs of the era, that began to pave the way for steel to shine. Now fast-forward a little. 1950s furniture was using aluminium, wire mesh and skinny steel rods to give mid-century design its airy aesthetic. It became official. Steel was here to stay. 

In today’s world, we’ve watched as the trend for industrial design has taken hold of magazine spreads, Pinterest boards and homes far and wide. It’s loved for its hardworking qualities; its rugged good looks; its urban nature. And at its core lies wood and metal. This is the design movement above all others that’s been the biggest celebration of the aforementioned material matrimony. If you google ‘industrial furniture’ your screen will very quickly be flooded with image after image of wood and metal couplings. Industrial furniture and accessories see woods from all walks of life – from oak to plywood – being teamed with rusted steel, galvanised steel, spray-painted steel, steel in strips, steel in pipe form and steel as wheels. The combinations are endless, which is one of the reasons that industrial design is so fun. 

Source image: Pinterest

Source image: Pinterest

That’s a lot to take in. But every Neptune design is inspired by tradition in some shape and form, and the Carter is a collection that pulls in aspects of traditions ancient and new. Just like our early ancestors, the Carter had to begin with wood. Not just any wood though, our love affair with oak meant no other wood would do. We knew we wanted to capture the almost-vintage look and feel of industrial-style furniture without compromising on quality, so we worked tirelessly to take premium cuts of new American oak through a seven-stage finishing process so they’re just the right amount of rustic and celebrate the natural knots and swirls of the wood grain. We knew we wanted to use steel and so channelled our passion for Crittall to create slim ribbons of metal that reminded us of the Crittall windows and partition doors that are becoming ever-more popular. As an ode to the traditional process of quenching, we powder coat the frames and then bake them at scorching heats to produce the sultry matte black finish that’s tough and lightly textured. We weren’t interested in sheen or gloss. And we knew we wanted it to be a future classic, so we focussed on thoughtful proportions, a sublime pedigree, and how to strike a perfect balance between the best of old and the most exciting of new. 

Carter console table, London Village prints: Westbourne Grove and Charlotte Street and Marylebone Bryanston Square print.

Wood and metal tables have been done before. Wood and metal tables that look a little like Carter have been attempted, many times over. Look closer though and you’ll find that things aren’t always quite what they seem. With the Carter, they’re better. 

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All hail
We fell for the lines of Crittall. See if you do too.