//Root History

Root History

The root wood was originally used by the Venetians already in the ‘500.

The Venetians found in the areas of Garda, territories that belonged to the Republic of the Serenissima, the precious timber species obtained from the roots of Ulivo and Walnut.

Given the peculiar veining of the root wood, its large availability and its easy transportation this was soon adopted as a valid substitute for marble.

In fact, it made possible the creation of complex designs and decorations thanks to the exclusive beauty of its veining, knots and bird’s-eye, peculiarities that make each piece unique and unrepeatable.

The greatest expression of its beauty and stylistic complexity will be during the ‘700. This is a particularly prolific age for the decorative use of the wood roots thanks to the widespread passion for ornamentation in all its artistic expressions.

The ability of the cabinet-maker in the ‘700  was unlimited, and the best Masters in its application were born in this period.

giuseppe maggiolini -small furniture- 1790ca

-root furniture- 1790ca

The greatest Italian Master in cabinet-making of this age was Giuseppe Maggiolini (Parabiago 1738-1814) called the Prince of wood-carver.

The legend associated with its name narrate that its sample case counted 86 different timber species.

He used Mahogany and Ebony coming from the Americas while Maple, holly, Olive tree and hawthorn came from Como and Lecco.

He used different wood’s chromatism to make fantastic decorations, except for the colours of the strongest shades like green, blue, pale blue and pink, obtained by dyeing.

He invented the shading technique, obtained by placing the wood engravings on hot sand.

This technique gave the furniture a strong three-dimensional effect, exclusive and of great aesthetic impact for the time it was invented.

In the same age, in addition to the furniture, the wood roots started  to be applied to other items of furniture such as boiserie and parquet.

Recent examples of wood root use in furniture are found in the Bidermeier style (1815-1848 ca) style linked especially to the birch root, in Art Decò (1919-1940 ca). A great exponent of this style was the Parisian designer Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann (1879-1933) a renovator in cabinet-making between the rococo style and the empire style.

émile-jacques ruhlmann -cabinet- 1923 ca

Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, furniture 1923 ca

The use of wood root it’s the expression of a craft knowledge that has ancient origins. The forms of its use have varied over time based on changes in the taste of the various ages and in the availability of craftsmen in the territory to work with it.

Nowadays, craftsmen find less and less space because of the dynamics of a market that prefers a quick and standardized production to the artisan industry that guarantees greater quality and uniqueness in every piece.

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