Faux bois is French for “false wood.” Something of a lost art, faux bois encompasses anything that reproduces the appearance and texture of wood. This French technique captures the look of wood by using cement, cast stone, cast iron and other elements. A faux bois effect can be achieved by painting, printing or imprinting a wood grain pattern on textiles, home accessories, walls, floors and furniture.
With the growing environmental movement, there is a connection between the popularity of faux bois and the rejection of pollution and mass production. This “lost art” can be found everywhere today.
The woodsy look of faux bois in a room adds a wonderful character and texture. Although earthy and rustic, it makes a perfectly stunning match for polished pieces with its artistic imitation of wood. This age-old art can transform a plain surface into an elegant and interesting architectural or design accent. Some examples of faux bois finishes are burl wood, Brazilian rosewood, mahogany and tiger maple.
Martha Stewart is a big fan of faux bois. Inspired by her own love of collecting faux bois, The Martha Stewart Collection, available at Macy’s, features elegant faux bois bath accessories such as wastebaskets, soap dishes, tumblers, etc., made in ceramic. The collection also features bath towels made from combed and cotton in her signature faux bois pattern, in an array of colors. The collection goes on to include kitchen accessories and bedding.
Ballard Designs offers a faux bois table in handcrafted resin and fiberglass with details including a knotty wood grain base and a weather resistant mossy cement finish. It’s wonderful when used in an outdoor space.
Neiman Marcus goes contemporary with the latest twist on faux bois. Stark ivory white porcelain fire logs – whether placed in the fireplace or on a display table that shows them off, have a very mod, alluring, sculptural impact. They’re beautiful, but a little pricey. Neiman Marcus also offers designs by Michael Aram. His signature serving pieces, candlesticks, even a side table made of aluminum to represent branches and wood grains are very popular.
Washington D.C. designer Thomas Pheasant’s recent collection of cast bronze furniture takes it cue from the trees in his own backyard. Pheasant photographed maple, oak, birch, and cedar trees, then used the patterns in their bark for his furniture line. The bronze pieces and limited edition of the photos themselves are available at McGuire, to the trade only.
One of my favorite pieces is a table cast in bronze that resembles a delicate group of branches. It’s a design created by New York designer Carole Gratele.
Some wonder how they feel about “false wood” in design. Wood is wonderful, yet faux bois continues to be an inspired art that has been used for centuries. Thankfully, in this modern age of technology, the beauty found in nature still inspires spectacular design.
After all, will trees ever go out of style?