A newsletter that tries to find a new homes for used building materials isn't the first place some designers would look for materials, but it works for Cliff Spencer. The Los Angeles-based designer was intrigued by a Napa Valley winery's offer of used oak that had been soaked in wine, so when an opportunity to head to San Francisco came up, a side trip to Napa was planned to pick up some of the material. The white oak he got had been used during the fermentation process to impart flavor to the wine -- it came from a sizable winery, where oak "staves" are put into stainless steel vats, then the traditional oak barrels. The 1/2 inch-thick staves are stained all the way through by the fermenting grapes; pinot noir makes for the darkest stain while the pinot grigio leaves the lightest.
Because of this unique material's previous life, no "stain" is necessary; the wine has done all the work. The resulting table, pictured above, has deep walnut tones without the walnut stain, which is pretty amazing. We've seen other wine-related furniture before, but it didn't look quite this good, and Spencer applies this aesthetic to the rest of his work, which features primarily sustainable materials -- we saw some kirei, bamboo and FSC-certified wood in there as well. In addition to residential interiors, he does some commercial work as well; in May, David Hertz Architects (featured here on TreeHugger) commissioned them to design and build their conference room table, bookshelves and media/storage cabinets for their new offices in Santa Monica, the first Platinum-level LEED certified building in the city. Check out more of his work at his site. ::Cliff Spencer