Inner Beauty

Timber: American cherry

Danish designer-maker Anne Brandhøj produces enigmatic objects that cross the boundary between function and sculpture. Her work is underpinned by a crisis moment she experienced while studying for her master’s in furniture design at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen. “I became overwhelmed with the idea that I shouldn’t be producing furniture at all, when we already have so much stuff in the world,” she says.

A visit to a local sawmill helped Brandhøj realise that, instead of giving up, she should shift her focus to natural, renewable materials that she could source herself. She began felling her own timber and exploring what would happen if she started shaping the wood before drying it. She learned to value the imperfections, the knots and cracks, and to celebrate the distinct qualities of surface and grain. These details are the defining characteristics in the designs she now produces in her Copenhagen workshop, which she describes as “either functional sculptures or sculptural furniture”.

Brandhøj is fascinated by the different shapes and substances she discovers within the trunk of a freshly logged tree, such as moss or fungus. “You don’t know what you will find when you open it up; I find that really beautiful,” she says. It is precisely these kinds of forms that the designer explores with American cherry at Three. By building up layers of carved wood, Brandhøj has created a series of consoles with interiors every bit as surprising as her beloved tree trunks. Deep, smooth chasms puncture the cuboidal volume of each.

Brandhøj encourages people to touch her designs, to understand the distinct feel of this particular timber. “To some people, wood is just wood,” she says, “but to me, different types of wood give completely different experiences.”