Tina Astrup graduated as a textile designer from the Danish Design School but also completed a post-graduate degree in furniture and spatial design.
Inspired by the timber and the colours seen in a local saw mill, where oak was stacked and seasoned, the work shown here is a project that has evolved over four years. She takes large disks of timber - sections of tree trunk - or substantial wedges of oak and baulks of wood and enhances both the pattern of the natural grain that mark the growth of the tree but her process seems also to echo mechanical cuts and saw marks that show how a tree is felled and the trunk cut into planks.
She uses vinegar poured over the timber that has been wound tightly with wire … a process that brings out tannins in the timber and creates slashes of dark colour in a way that echoes the effect when textiles are tie dyed.
This changes the character of the oak to make it darker both in terms of colour and in the sense of being much more dramatic.
We tend to see oak now only after it has been worked - so finely cut and planed and smoothed and pale - and see oak as the ideal wood for wide, hard-wearing floor boards or for strong finely-made furniture.
Along with beech and ash, pale or almost white oak is still a hall-mark if not the hall-mark wood for the modern Scandinavian interior. Through the classic period of modern furniture design, the English even talked about ‘light oak furniture’ to distinguish the look they wanted from the ‘dark’ oak of 19th-century and earlier furniture that was regarded as old fashioned or unfashionable.
But oak trees, in the wood or the forest, can be twisted and gnarled - powerful and impressive - and even disturbing.
The cuts and marks on these pieces by Tina Astrup reconnects us with what is, after all, the force - the almost aggressive force - of chopping down a large tree and cutting it into planks and should take us a step back from the product to the natural material and to the way we work with timber to see new possibilities in how designers could work with and use oak in very different ways.