Thursday Salute to Originals: Newspaper Today, Wood Tomorrow?

Newspaper Wood Compressed Surfaces

Newspapers are a staple publication for many Americans. Whether you’re reading it with your morning coffee, perusing the classifieds on the subway to work, or doing the crossword puzzle during your college lecture, newspapers are everywhere – keeping people up-to-date, informed, and entertained. With over 100 million newspapers produced each day in the United States alone (over 1 billion daily worldwide), it is clearly one popular periodical. Unfortunately, however, within 24 hours, those 100 million newspapers become obsolete, creating mounds of wasted paper daily. But one innovative designer has figured out a way to help combat this issue of paper waste by fusing sustainability, design, and nature. The solution? NewspaperWood.

Dissatisfied with the notion that once a tree becomes paper, it remains paper, Mieke Meijers, a Dutch designer, developed NewspaperWood with the help of Vij5 design. Made by layers upon layers of newspaper adhered together, compressed, and rolled into a log, NewspaperWood looks and acts very similar to its original counterpart. Just like any other type of wood, NewspaperWood can be planed, cut, nailed, and sanded. And once planed and sanded, it reveals a beautiful grain, amazingly akin to the organic earthiness of rings in actual wood. Though not meant as a structural alternative, NewspaperWood is an attractive choice for aesthetic applications (like furniture), and can even be finished, stained, and veneered.

Furniture Pieces Created From Recycled Newspaper Wood

NewspaperWood has already caught the eye of many up and coming designers. A line of furniture was produced, along with other items, including lamps and jewelry, in an effort to showcase NewspaperWood’s versatility and visual appeal. Prototypes of the pieces were showcased in Milan in April 2011, and have since gone into production.

But aside from its sustainability and naturalistic wood properties, perhaps the most interesting notion about NewspaperWood is the way in which it blurs the line between the natural and synthetic. This is certainly not the first time that man has tried to replicate nature, nor will it be the last. However, with NewspaperWood, there is something different, almost natural, about using newspaper to recreate and emphasize the beauty of its most unrefined form – the tree. With the structured columns and bold typefaces of newsprint, it is hard to imagine anything organic or fluid about it. But when manipulated into NewspaperWood, the hidden beauty of the literature is revealed through undulating grains and rings, evoking our most natural and earthy aesthetics. It is difficult to identify where nature stops and the artificial begins. While NewspaperWood, clearly, is not found in nature, it is hard to deny the truly organic essence of this material. The juxtaposition created between the manmade and the natural in the NewspaperWood really makes one think and appreciate both the beauty and ingenuity of humanity and nature alike.

While man can never exactly replicate Mother Nature, we truly appreciate the way in which NewspaperWood utilizes wasted material to recognize and recreate the beauty of natural wood in a manmade state. We appreciate this fresh take on fusing sustainability with materiality and design, and hope it will jumpstart other unique innovations in both the recycling and design world.

Image credit: Vij5