After 30 years in the timber business, Cantarutti, a self-confessed “woods and forests lover”, has built up a xylotheque, or wood library, of 2,000 species, drawn from every point on the globe. Each specimen he shows us delights him, from the extravagantly figured Mexican Ziricote, to the snakewood from French Guiana (“Don’t lick the snakewood: it’s poisonous,” he jokes), and the angelim from Brazil, with its oddly evocative scent (“Horse sweat. English girls will recognise it”).
He instructs his students: “Please write down that all the woods are nice. Like ‘top model’ Naomi Campbell, they are all top.” What leads him to deplore wood favouritism is the international furniture market’s focus on two timbers, oak and walnut, to the exclusion of a world of more interesting options. He co-founded Slow Wood, in 2014, with the aim of offering architects and designers a menu of exceptional and overlooked species.
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