Ode to a Type of Wood


O teak!
You delight of clients’ wives,
refuge of architects,
and the dot over the “i” of honoraria.
You fiendishly indestructible and shitty brown.
You are so Asiatic Company-like and so noble
that you cannot even stand being painted in a vibrant color,
so full of virtues that you can only be shown nude
as God, in a moment of genius, created you,
sexless, boring, as costly as virtue itself.
Neither a knot nor a crack on you can make little girls and boys
think that not everything is the same at both ends.
Together with stainless steel and reinforced concrete
you stand as the trinity of the times.
Banks, corporations, and savings and loans worship you.
You are the symbol of all manner of consolidated semi-education,
the discrete advertisement for the suitable height of our tax bracket
and the corresponding excellence of our neighborhood.
Once you were an honorable maritime material,
intended to withstand storm and salt water.
Now you have been raised to the pedestal of taste.
Now even bank customers,
who themselves must pay the price,
fall on their knees before the totem pole of teak.
Humble and touching pine,
which can rot in decent fashion,
which must not show its dirty hue at any price,
which modestly wears the painter’s color –
Let us be old fashioned together and out of touch with the times.
Our chance will come again, sooner or later.

— Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), Danish author, architect and critic, written Oct. 28, 1953

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to Ode to a Type of Wood

  1. npc29 says:

    Do you have any previous posts on that corner chair? It has nice proportions

  2. amvolk says:

    And what weighty tome graces your folding field desk?

  3. jlloydparks says:

    Having been to India it is also a wonderful cooking wood. You have’t lived until you’ve had pork shoulder smoked over teak. Yes, it grows on trees over there and they burn the stuff like it going out of style.

  4. Tom Dugan says:

    I’m starting to like this Henningsen guy.

  5. Hank Cohen says:

    Wow! Now who is going to do for teak what Bob Taylor is doing for ebony?

  6. Damn, Chris. I could have sworn you wrote that!

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