“I learned how difficult it can be to handle these massive wood blocks in all phases of production, how different these wood species behave,” declares designer Boris Berlin, evoking his collaboration with artisan Mikkel Karlshøj (owner of the Danish workshop The Wood Hunter) to create the collection Totem. Born in St Petersburg and world-renowned for the great contribution he brought to Northern European design after moving to Denmark, Boris Berlin sees Totem as a magic, androgynous wooden monolith that can be broken up into four elements, which – when turned upside down and placed on the floor – become four side tables and a vase. One of the two totems is in dark masculine hardwood, of exotic provenance; another is in light feminine softwood from Scandinavia.
The distinctive grain of each of the wooden surfaces results from the wood being cut into wedge-shaped boards and then glued together like slices of a pie with the edges of the two wedges not glued together, leaving the gap that allows wood to breathe, to expand with changes of humidity. Then the conical blocks are turned on the lathe by Mikkel Karlshøj; and finally finished by manual sanding, oiling and polishing by the designer’s own hands. The granite stone base is cut and milled by A/S Forenede Stenhuggerier. “The realisation of this idea demanded a skilful woodturner, which I found in Mikkel Karlshøj, a courageous master who is not afraid to handle large dimensions and heavy ítems,” says Berlin. Their collaboration started in 2018 and has blossomed into this new project.