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Touch Wood/ Prof. Kenneth Segal, Prof. Jonathan Ventura

There is definitely something special about wood.

Wood has a particular feel; its heft, pattern and color. It is a truly unique material. Wood isn’t just the antithesis of plastic – old but good, functional, solid, natural, abundant, strong, and diverse, it provides warmth, shelter and flexibility. Wood is a tactile, endlessly renewable resource that has served human culture well for millennia. 

The present volume focuses on multiple readings of three major cultures that have developed a unique relationship with wood: the woodworking, design and architectural traditions of Japan, Western and Southern Africa, and the Shakers. Japan's geo-cultural circumstances produced a frugal woodworking culture infused with religious and philosophical meaning, in which wooden objects are designed, crafted and assembled with surgical precision. In contrast, the abundance of the African landscape encouraged craft and assembly techniques based around derogation with each social unit and grouping developing their own patterns, ornamentation, and craft techniques. Finally, the Shakers' approach to wood, mirrors their austerity and religious asceticism. Also minimalistic in nature, deriving from functionality and necessity, this approach had a profound influence on contemporary design. 

As they go through this collection of wood-based design projects, the reader will achieve an excellent panoramic understanding of the practice as it stands today while also considering the broader, thought-provoking question of what constitutes a cultural object.  

Touch Wood/ Prof. Kenneth Segal, Prof. Jonathan Ventura

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