The London Plane Project by Heliconia Furniture is a comprehensive exploration of a tree species that is at once both ubiquitous in most European cities and completely under-utilised as a timber.
Restricting his palate to one tree species, the Heliconia designer-maker Christopher Burley has created Drift, a small collection of wild craft furniture with modernist stylings.
Along with an illustration of the processes and techniques, the final collection of tables, seating and objects will be displayed at September’s London Design Fair.
Chris says: “Over the last two years I have become fascinated by this ubiquitous London tree, sucking up our pollution and dulling the noise – doing everything for us when alive but remaining underused as a furniture timber. I have explored this specific tree species to discover its versatilities and possibilities and have had a lot of fun doing it.
“By applying different techniques to produce a variety of tones, textures and forms, I have encountered its young pale tones and the old tea orange brown and everything in between. I have steam-bent it, laminated it, burnt it, ebonised it, bleached it, carved it, gouged it, scraped it, wire-brushed it, made dovetail joints, fox tenons, finger joints and lap joints and dowels. This fascinating wood can reveal yet more character depending on how it has been cut when converted from a tree into timber.”
Chris first became interested in the possibilities of the tree species after being immersed in a major timber re-use commission for a large residential developer in 2016, making furniture pieces from the London Plane trees felled on site.
The final designs of the Drift collection have a modernist styling with very simple lines and jointing to illustrate the visual versatility of London Plane and power of the Lacewood grain figure.