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From Wigwams to Wardrobes

by Universal Interiors

From Wigwams to Wardrobes

As our timber series comes to a close, we look finally at birch wood which features in several of our designs.

Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, birch derives from the genus Betula which includes other trees such as the alders and hazel. Birch displays a very distinctive bark of horizontal lenticels, a characteristic featured in paper birch which has been used for many ancient texts. Its array of colours also divides its species into names: white, silver, grey, yellow and black. With such a unmistakable grain and lustrous gleam, it proves to be a popular choice for timber and furniture. A sought after species in particular is the Karelian Birch, known for its dark lines and ripples.

Its lightweight and flexibility was recognised by Native Americans who used it to build wigwams and canoes. Today it is used to create skateboards for the same reason. Further uses for birch include its use in saunas, the fragrance from the Silver Birch helps relax muscles; extracts from birch are also used to make soap, shampoo, leather oil and its sap to make syrup.

The birch often appears in Irish and Scottish folksongs and mythology, associated with fairies and reawakening. In Celtic culture it symbolises versatility, rebirth and strength due to its ability to thrive in the most unforgiving environments.

Above is an example of our Chester design in birch.