“Wood is an imperfect material. Which, to my mind, makes it the perfect material.

It is far more tempestuous and fickle than metal or glass, or clay, for example. These tend to have somewhat predictable tones, and foreseeable densities and movements. Working with them one is prone to calculable results. A piece of steel forged in Pittsburgh is nearly indistinguishable from one made in Beijing or in Bosnia. But a piece of wood, even if it comes from the other side of the very same tree, often varies greatly in hue and density and in temperament.

The other materials are like a companion who is, well, companionable. But wood is as a fiery dance partner, with flashing eyes and wildly athletic movements, who can explode off the walls one moment, and then mellow into a soft balletic repose. Working in glass might leave one satisfied. The end result with wood is much more akin to exaltation.

Just ask yourself: would you dine with someone over a cold slab of glass or over an ungiving hard steel, or a coarse ceramic slab? Or, would you prefer the sensuous experience that is a smooth, warm piece of timber that is hand planed and finished to a sumptuous perfection?

Wood is like we humans: infinitely variable, and therein lies its beauty.”

From a Google talk given by Jonathan Cohen, Seattle 2016