Reclaimed antique woods speak to qualities that don’t meet the eye; ones that are intangible, yet highly perceived. What are some of the immaterial qualities of these woods? How do we better understand their physiological and psychological impact? Is the affect changed and determined by the historical layers carried in the old woods? And how does our understanding of these qualities inform how we create, design and educate? Scientist Edward O. Wilson and Psychologist Erich Fromm each pointed to an idea of Biophilia, which may be a way to explore these questions.
The term “Biophilia” means “love of life or living systems”, coined by Fromm to describe the attraction to all that’s alive. Edward O. Wilson later widened the idea in his book Biophilia. They both shared the theory that a deep connection between humans and nature is based in our biology and part of our evolution. The hypothesis would help explain why people care for and try to save animals (and of course their own children), plants and flowers. The natural love for life sustains life.
And included in this may be the pleasure in using wood, derived from living trees, even after the logs have been refined by the mill shop. But what about reclaimed wood? An aged and rough sawn surface may readily conjure similar rustic qualities in nature, and a more immediate experience of Biophilia. But the woods also carry history and qualities that don’t meet the eye. So is there an innate biological attraction to the nostalgia of past history, Histophilia? And what paradoxical (antique wood is still alive in a sense, yet conjures the past) and valuable role of opposition does it have within a modern environment?