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If You Must Use Reclaimed Wood, Hit Us Over the Head with It

Architects breathe new life into a dated motif with really brash designs.

Autodesk office, financial district. Gensler.


In the aughts, every new bar, office, and restaurant that opened looked like the candlelit hull of a sea-battered ship. “Reclaimed wood had become incredibly tired and dated,” recalls Gensler principal Collin Burry.

These days, the beleaguered, beloved material is being used more discerningly: on the ceiling. “We use wood sparingly now, more purposefully,” says architect Eric Haesloop of Turnbull Griffin Haesloop. “It‘s become more of a precious resource.”

The overhead trick emphasizes the room’s depth and volume and can be achieved in a range of materials, from ebony-stained cedar to inexpensive flooring. “A wood ceiling creates this warm, cozy enclosure,” says architect Julie Dowling of Dowling Studios. "It‘s way more inviting than stark white.”

Read more New Rules of Design coverage here.

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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