Do the Strand

A young furniture designer combines traditional craftsmanship with a cheap, sustainable wood product.

Most people are probably familiar with oriented strand board, or OSB, from walking by construction sites—the rough, variegated wood is often used as wall or roof sheathing and for makeshift fences and planks. It’s not a handsome material, but the 22-year-old Brit­ish designer Adam Rowe ( admired OSB’s industrial aesthetic, not to mention its light weight, strength, and affordability.

“There are so many misconceptions about manufactured board,” Rowe says. “But when you look at the material and analyze it, you realize that it’s been engineered for certain purposes. In a way, it’s better than more natural materials.” OSB proved the perfect choice for Rowe’s two new projects, which juxtapose the engineered wood against traditional, ornate forms—in this case, a Victorian-style armchair with buttoned-leather upholstery and a Chippendale desk with a solid-walnut top.

The OSB that Rowe uses is also environmentally friendly. His supplier—SmartPly, based in southeast England—manufactures it with no added formaldehyde, using only fast-growing timber from an Irish plantation that has received certi­fication from the Forest Stewardship Council.

Oriented strand board, or OSB, is typically used in walls, floors, and roofs in residential and commercial construction, but it’s also appropriate for furniture and shelving.

OSB panels are strong, durable, and water-resistant. SmartPly’s OSB uses FSC-certified wood and has no added formaldehyde.

An engineered wood made from compressed and bonded wooden flakes

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