Faux bois, or false wood, is something of a lost art. But it's also everywhere, now applied to many home decor products.
Faux bois is something of a lost art. But it’s also everywhere.
French for “false wood,” faux bois encompasses anything that reproduces the appearance or texture of wood. Although only a handful of artists still produce the intricate, concrete-covered steel pieces prized by serious collectors, the technique’s woodgrain pattern is also being applied to pillows, plates, candles, linens and other home decor products.
“It appears in the magazine in some incarnation in almost every issue,” says Kevin Sharkey, home decorating editorial director at Martha Stewart Living. “There is no place we think is inappropriate for faux bois.”
CB2, Crate and Barrel’s more modern offshoot, sells tote bags made of woodgrain-printed fabric, plastic placemats with a woodgrain design and white resin soap dishes and ring holders resembling twigs. Pottery Barn offers a chandelier made of intertwining iron branches with crystal leaves. Macy’s carries Stewart’s line of faux bois towels, bedding, kitchen and bath accessories. Target sells brown resin vases that resemble logs and black aluminum candleholders shaped like branches.
Grace Bonney, founder and editor of www.DesignSponge (now www.designspongeonline.com ), started noticing faux bois on home accessories in 2004, as tastes turned from bold colors to patterns. More recently, she’s seen it paired in kitschy ways with orange and other 1970s colors.
“I think the pattern movement was very much joined by a trend or interest in natural materials, which manifested itself in imagery of botanicals, trees themselves, or woodgrain,” she says.
Jonathan Lo, who co-founded itsknotwood.blogspot.com , dedicated to all things faux bois, admits that faux bois is one of those “love it or hate” designs. But he appreciates it as another way to bring nature into his life.
Lo, an art director from Irvine, Calif., says faux bois also was big in the 1940s and ’70s, but even in the intervening decades remained prevalent.
“Will trees ever go out of style?” he asks.