This week’s Idea: Got Pine Beetle wood? Make Pine Beetle Furniture!

with Neil Godin

This Week. Two Words. Creativity. And Collaboration. (Was that three words?). First creativity. I just got an email from wood products designer Barbara Bell. Telling me that one of her main clients, FPInnovations (the world’s largest forest products research institute, with Western Canada headquarters on the UBC campus here in Vancouver), is launching a platform they’re calling the FPIntell LAB. Barbara tells us, “This unique site will bring together diverse minds to solve issues related to wood product innovation.”

Great, Barbara (I’m thinking), “but what does that look like in practical terms?” Always curious, I called Barbara, and she explained that people in the wood products industry (like every other industry) often overlook the possibilities when they toss their “fall downs,” “off-cuts” and otherwise “unusable” materials into the trash bin. “We need to hit the brakes,” Barbara warns, “and look for new and better ways to use all the material that’s available to us – and, we need to be (a lot more) creative.”

An example: Wood “destroyed” by the mountain pine beetle 

Photo courtesy of http://www.theinteriorevolution.com/archives/2741 (Rotsen Furniture Reclaimed Tamburil Coffee Table)

Photo courtesy of http://www.theinteriorevolution.com/archives/2741
(Rotsen Furniture Reclaimed Tamburil Coffee Table)

You may or may not be thrilled by this example of reclamation, but there are many who are. The point, of course, is that one person’s trash is (as always) another person’s treasure.  Back to Barbara Bell, and FPInnovations.

To mark the launch of FPIntell LAB, Barbara said they are launching a wood products innovation contest. A contest designed not only to encourage designers to submit designs – but also to get “everyone” in the value added wood products industry thinking and talking about innovation, creativity, waste reduction – and – enhanced profitability, through better utilization of wood in all its forms. (Sign me up!)

The Japanese have been doing this for centuries 

Coffee table - Google images reclaimed 1

Gnarly log ends, and slabs of wood that are shed when cutting lumber, usually end up on the scrap pile here in North America. But people in Japan (and elsewhere) have known for centuries that they can reclaim this lost wood, and turn it into works of practical art.

Note the metal clips that hold this slab of wood together. This is an extreme example of reclamation (based on ancient Japanese techniques) from Hewn and Hammered, a company of artisans in Las Angeles. (http://www.hewnandhammered.com/hewn_and_hammered/woodworking/#/)

Note the metal clips that hold this slab of wood together. This is an extreme example of reclamation (based on ancient Japanese techniques) from Hewn and Hammered, a company of artisans in Las Angeles. (http://www.hewnandhammered.com/hewn_and_hammered/woodworking/#/)

For details about the contest visit http://www.fpintell.fpinnovations.ca/ . There you will find that there are prizes for Greatest Collaboration; Best Concept – and even a Peoples’ Choice (Community) award – with $5000 in total prize money. Note the metal clips that hold this slab of wood together. This is an extreme example of reclamation (based on ancient Japanese techniques) from Hewn and Hammered, a company of artisans in Las Angeles. (http://www.hewnandhammered.com/hewn_and_hammered/woodworking/#/)

This kind of initiative has the power to move people from “passive” to “active” in thinking about possibilities that we wouldn’t even think about normally – and there are lessons here for all of us. 

Your Call to Action: 

Mentally (or physically) examine your trash bin. What’s in there that could be pulled back out. Re-purposed. Re-designed. Re-engineered. Re-combined. Re-imagined. Re-inspired. Who could you collaborate with, in order to combine your waste with their product, to make something totally new and exciting?

Barbara offered another wood products example that might inspire you. She told me that a wood flooring company is using waste wood (with huge cracks) as a brand new “and very high end” designer product. “They squeeze brightly colored filler into the cracks – and present the product as a hot new “must have,” Barbara said.

Who would have thought? Maybe you?

See you next week.

Neil

Ps – If this interests you, why not visit the LAB’s Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/FPIntell (Be sure to “like” the page while you’re there, please).

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