Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My current project is a design for a residential home that is using an overall base theme of Wengé and white. This look was inspired by Kelly Hoppen's recent refurbishment of her new home in London. During my search for materials and suppliers I have come to understand a lot more about the incredible wood that is Wengé.

Wengé wood (also known as African/Congolese rosewood) is a tropical timber of the Wengé tree (Millettia laurentii) from Africa. The wood is very dark and dense with a coarse grain and a pattern of nearly black grains separated by dark brown grains. The tree is native to Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Tanzania and Mozambique. The trees grow to a height of approximately 20 meters with a trunk of up to 1 meter in diameter.

Wengé can also be challenging to work with. Sharp tools are essential and the long coarse texture can tend to tear out and cause some difficulty in sanding. The wood will glue well if the gluing is done as soon as the surface is dressed by planing, sanding or scraping. The dust of Wengé is also quite toxic and can be highly irritating if not handled carefully.

Wengé is incredibly expensive in Europe and the look is often imitated with stains and veneers on other less expensive hardwoods. This is in fact a good thing, as Wengé is known to be acquired through illegal harvesting in the Congo where the industry is improperly regulated.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mimetic House

One of the AAI (Architectural Association of Ireland) winners this year was this house that is tucked deep in the countryside of County Leitrim.

Vertical panes of glass and mirror are alternated on the exterior to allow light in to the house while at the same time reflecting the surrounding landscape. The architect, Dominic Stevens, designed it to reflect the change in seasons and weather conditions thereby 'mimicking' its environment and becoming a part of it.