The Terning – our designer talks texture and tactility

The Terning – our designer talks texture and tactility

“The Terning plays on two ways of tiling – highlighting the depth and texture of the timber but also angling the grain. So you get a really intriguing pattern over a single wash of timber.”

Nowadays, we all seem to be looking for depth in one way or another. It could be extending your living room to deepen your space, contouring makeup to highlight structure or – as our designer, Sam Greig, explains – designing a beautiful piece of furniture with a textured facade.

Enter: the Terning. When it comes to exploring the hidden depths of timber, this design speaks volumes. What look like 3D cubes of wood across its facade are actually tessellated timber tiles in the shape of a diamond – and it really is a jewel.

Keen to delve deeper into the magic of the Terning, we decided to catch up with Sam, its designer.

Hi Sam. What a beautiful day to talk furniture and what a stunning piece the Terning is! What are the key features of this beautiful design?

Hello! Thanks.

When designing the Terning, I started to look at parquetry in a much more textural way. At a glance – whether it’s the bedside table, chest of drawers or media unit – the Terning’s facade might look like a single piece of timber. But stop and inspect a little closer and you see its unique tessellation and all those little pieces of timber which fit together seamlessly. Depth and texture are the key themes.

What inspired such a textured pattern?

Cubes! We wanted to create a tight pattern through oscillating a cubic shape to give a 3D effect. The word ‘terning’ is actually Danish and Norwegian for ‘cube’, and cuboid is the impression given by the tiles of wood – in fact, they’re three diamond-shaped pieces joined together.

Also, it has an element of fish scales about it – a repeated pattern common in nature. There’s a science to the way it works, as well as being a creatively designed piece.

What’s most innovative and unique about the Terning?

The pattern truly resembles a 3D cube pattern, used often in graphic design and print. But we’ve never applied this with parquetry before, using timber and highlighting its beautiful grain from all angles. What we really wanted to do was to showcase the texture and materiality of the timber.

Then you’ve got the tiles, worked into a consistent, tight pattern – and when you touch it, there’s such depth and tactility there. The push-click mechanism to open it invites you to interact with the piece and enjoy its texture first-hand.

And why are texture and tactility so important in the home?

We’re spending more time than ever enjoying our homes, finding our latest home obsession, starting new projects – so why surround yourself with dull, flat lacquered pieces when you can enjoy furniture as a textured work of art?

It doesn’t mean it needs to be garish. You can carve into timber and shape it, to create shadow and grain and explore all the things wood can offer. It’s like with clothing – you can have a plain t-shirt, or you can have ribbing, corduroy or cable knit. Texture is so important.

What was your greatest struggle when designing such a complex piece?

I love patterned surface design – it’s so satisfying to create a pattern that will fit perfectly. But that’s also the struggle – making sure the pieces are the same size and fit and tessellate evenly, and that you get a perfect break between drawers (on the chest and nightstand).

We’re lucky to work with manufacturers who enjoy a challenge and understand the challenges we’ve had working out such an intricate piece.

How do the manufacturers fit all those small pieces of wood together?

It’s a clever use of material. They take a timber plank, and plane it at an angle giving a pitched plank which is then cut at an angle to create the diamond tiles. Three diamond tiles are then oscillated together to form a hexagonal tile and they are then tiled over the surface.

You get a really interesting variance of depth which adds to the perception of the grain direction, tactility and shadow. It plays on two ways of tiling – highlighting the depth and texture of the timber but also angling the grain. So you get a really intriguing pattern over a single wash of timber.

What is your styling advice for those making the Terning their new home addition?

The pattern is eye-catching but the piece is actually relatively muted in tone – so you can drop it into a variety of styles and choose to make it centre-stage or part of a composition. It’ll lend itself to both. Personally, I’d highlight the timber with a flash of brass, or build on the timber with soft, natural textures like linen.

Most of all though, lighting, as ever, is key – light will bounce off the textured face of the Terning and add to its depth. Throughout the course of the day, as natural light moves across the room, you’ll get a different set of shadows.

Watch out for more Designer Stories coming soon to the blog.