TORONTO – When a 130-year-old rotting oak on his family’s private woodlands had to come down, Patrick Murphy, owner of One Wood of Toronto, decided to give the tree a second life as custom furnishings.

About 15 years earlier, the tree’s massive trunk had split in two. Part of the tree was used to firewood, but the other part was still standing, albeit unbalanced and stressed. An inspection of the tree last year revealed that it was rotting from the inside out. The tree was removed to salvage as of its lumber-laden trunk as possible.

According to One Wood’s website, Murphy custom woodworking projects frequently begin “with selecting and salvaging trees destined to rot, or to be mulched or burned, and ends with bringing new life to its lumber. This wood is processed and sculpted by us from start to finish, creating beauty in something nearly lost to time.”

Murphy partnered with Odami, a Toronto-based design studio to design furnishings that he could fabricate that capture the "immense presecence this might oak once possessed." Odami was founded in 2017 by Aránzazu González Bernardo and Michael Norman Fohring to offer architectural, interior, and furniture design services.

The collaboration resulted in the design and manufacture of the Case Study 01: On Mass collection consisting of an armchair, table and lamp. Each piece was constructed exclusively from thick slabs of solid wood milled from the red oak.  

The Odami website offers this flowery description of the collection: “As simple compositions of heavy masses, each piece is an expression of this strength and power. Solid rectilinear volumes give way to gentle curves and softened edges, creating deep shadows and comfortable forms. With timeless simplicity, each piece is a humble celebration of material richness and craft, and a study of the coziness of mass.”

The old red oak’s story does not end with the new furnishings. Murphy wrote on his website that he “transplanted its seedlings to advantageous locations so it may live on through its offspring.”

"From milling the tree, all the way through to building and finally transplanting young seedlings, I am grateful for all that I have learned throughout this entire process," Murphy said.


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