The Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi is often defined as being ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’. Designer Joan Lao identifies completely with the concept, as evident in two of his latest projects; beautiful, timber flooring that sells under the name Energia Natural (part of the award winning MH Parquets y Tarimas company) and Alternative, a new furniture collection for the Mobilfresno Group.
Born in Barcelona, Joan Lao is an all-encompassing designer whose work manages to be both contemporary and timeless. He expresses himself through many mediums, from industrial design to architecture, corporate I.D. and interiors. For Energia Natural, Lao has created a range of hardwearing, low carbon footprint floorboards made of bonded layers of wood. “The concept of this collection is based on going beyond the purely market values of the product and taking it to a status based on wellbeing and comfort in a space,” the designer has stated. “Indeed, the Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi involves the concept of the value of time and wear as a benefit, the sensitiveness towards nature, rustic beauty and traditional crafts, and in this sense, our wood flooring collection fully identifies with it.”
For Alternative, Lao has created a range of furniture where sustainability, along with a simple, paired down elegance, is also high on the agenda. As Joan Lao said at Alternative’s launch in 2010, “The market is poisoned with unnecessary products and we do not want to create new ones for the sake of it. The products we make have to be completely essential.” Pieces in the collection range from quietly sophisticated sofas and armchairs to platform beds, chairs and tables such as this Vital model (pictured) in which a strength and vitality is imposed in the most minimal of dimensions.