I’ve been a major fan of Instagram, the photo-sharing social-media network, since it launched in 2010. Design aficionados like me were attracted to platform’s clean-and-simple aesthetics—an elegant grid of square images, each with a hidden caption that’s revealed with a click—and the site soon became a favorite of architects, decorators, fashionistas, and other visually driven folk. While Instagram has developed a strong celebrity quotient—even the Pope has joined, amassing more than 3.4 million followers—it has retained its appeal for the hands-on design community, and that includes a lot of people who work closely with hardwood. Any number of accounts are dedicated to visually recording some aspect of the cultivation, milling, utilization, or sheer beauty of hardwood. Here are three of those timber-loving Instagrammers that I particularly like.
Before Nick Offerman landed his breakout role as Ron Swanson, the curmudgeonly department boss on Parks and Recreation, the Illinois-born actor supplemented his income between gigs by building canoes and other wood products. When television called, Offerman didn’t close his one-man East Los Angeles wood shop but brought in a small group of woodworkers to continue producing everything from mustache combs and meat paddles to Oregon elm tables and walnut and oak knock-down beds. The focus is on hand-crafted, traditional joinery and sustainable slab rescue, working with fallen trees from throughout northern California and the urban LA area. Along with its hardwood products, the Offerman Wood Shop chronicles its day-to-day life in engaging Instagram posts whose amusingly ornery tone is not so far from that of the famously cranky Ron Swanson himself. www.instagram.com/offermanwoodshop
Texas-based hardwood flooring specialists Hardwood Design Co. pride themselves on the complete vertical integration of the manufacturing and finishing of their materials (i.e., they log, mill, dry, process, and finish their own wood). Their claim that “managing each aspect of the process from planning and design to finishing means we have complete control over each piece, ensuring truly exceptional floors, every time,” seems to be borne out by the acres of handsome flooring on their eye-catching and informative Instagram site. I was particularly taken with the milky white-oak plank floors they installed in an Austin house renovated by Mark Ashby Design and Jessica Stewart Lendvay Architects. “The clients wanted them to look like the old Dutch floors from their native Europe,” Hardwood Design writes. “They're bleached, hand scraped, and hand oiled. Truly one of a kind!” Mission accomplished! www.instagram.com/hardwooddesignco
Based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Chris Wood is a young arborist who founded his own tree service company, Ravenswood Tree and Landscape, in 2013. In his spare time, he mills trees into lumber, and he is also a keen collector of antique and vintage woodworking tools and paraphernalia. Wood’s Instagram site is a winning record of his work with, and infectious passion for, trees and the culture around their management. New England is rich in big hardwood trees, many of them of historic importance, and there is a constant need to maintain them. “Tree work is a science as well as an art,” Wood writes. While is critical to make sound arboricultural decisions when trimming, pruning, removing deadwood, and performing other necessary services, it is also essential that the arborist is sensitive to the aesthetics of the tree, to see that its natural beauty is preserved along with its well-being. Wood’s Instagram posts show this approach in action. www.instagram.com/ravenswoodtree