03 November 2022

Four elements in one

Fire, earth, air, water: the Kauri.

From the heart of the Earth, a 50,000-year-old wood undoubtedly jointly praises all four natural elements together. We are talking about Kauri wood impeccably treated by the company Riva 1920.

What exactly is Kauri? Scientifically defined as Agathis Australis, the Kauri is a type of conifer that lives only in the sub-tropical climates of New Zealand. They are the largest trees in the world in terms of trunk cubature, in fact they exceed 70 meters in height and have a diameter that can reach 9 meters. Kauri trees are protected by the New Zealand government and cutting is strictly prohibited. Currently the largest Kauri still living is the "Tane Mahuta" or "Lord Of The Forest" in the Maori language and is found in the Waipoa Kauri forest to which tourists also have access.

About 45,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, a series of cataclysms that are still unexplained today felled entire Kauri forests, flooding them with water and mud. The uniqueness̀ lies in the fact that despite the millennia-long sojourn under the mud, these logs turn out to be perfectly preserved and have the same characteristics as freshly cut wood. The special conditions of such mud and the absolute lack of oxygen allowed the trees, which have been trapped in the swamps for 30/40/50 thousand years, to defy the chemical processes of decomposition and petrification to arrive intact to the present day.

There are three stages:

  1. Extraction - Having identified the "deposit," extraction is carried out. Salvage operations present special difficulties given the muddy and yielding soil conditions in places that are far from accessible and given the considerable size of the logs, which can weigh 200/300 tons and force operators to cut them to enable them to be lifted and transported.
  2. Processing - The portions of logs, sectioned into boards, are processed in order to obtain homogeneous thicknesses. Precisely because of this need, a tangential cutting system was developed to minimize the handling of large logs. Given the rainy winter weather and the semi-puddled nature of the soils, operators are forced to carry out excavation operations in the dry season, devoting the winter months to processing and finishing.
  3. Sanding, Resining, Waxing/Oiling - Rough boards may involve resin inserts: a delicate process to fill natural splits and even out or recreate board edges. This is followed by the sanding stage to make the surface even and smooth to the touch. The last processing step is oiling with oils of vegetable origin.

Here is that Kauri wood takes, thanks to the craftsmanship of Riva 1920, light again through the skilled craftsmen's hands that manage to enhance its noble strength, its historical value, its timeless charm and that manage to transform it into masterpieces. Riva 1920 Kauri tables are true works of art made available by nature. The craftsmanship transforms simple wooden planks into original and unrepeatable pieces, extraordinary objects that stand out and amaze us with their personality. The table tells a lot about the history of a home; it represents the furniture par excellence and the center of the home itself. It is precisely while sitting at the table that we experience some of the most important emotions of our existences, and wood with its warmth, authenticity and liveliness best represents this. A wooden table sets the stage for a sensory experience involving multiple senses: its imperfections and knots can be felt to the touch, its scent wafts through the air, and its colors and grain fill the eye.  Kauri tables are made from all-natural wood and finished by hand; any movements, cracks and changes in the condition of the wood are an inescapable feature of this furniture and are attributable to natural settling and varying environmental conditions.

In our exhibition in Zoppola (PN) you can find one of the most famous unique pieces in the Riva 1920 collection, the pricelessly beautiful and bold Kauri Riflessi Millenari (2012) with a polished steel base signed by international artist Helidon Xhixha.

From the heart of the Earth, a 45,000-year-old wood in your home.

Visit the dedicated section on the Riva 1920 website https://www.riva1920.it/en/kauri/

Visit our store and find your Riva 1920 table https://www.martinelstore.com/en/prod/man/riva


Riva 1920 - It all began in 1920 in Cantù, in the heart of Brianza, in a small family-run workshop specializing in the production of solid wood furniture with a classic style. Towards the end of the 1970s, brothers Maurizio and Davide Riva followed in their father's and grandfather's footsteps and began working as carpenters in the workshop below their home, devoting themselves to custom furniture. They began an artisanal process of enhancing natural wood through the use of all-natural waxes and oils, a hallmark of Riva 1920. In 1992, Riva 1920 presented its furniture collection for the first time at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. Alongside woods from programmed and controlled cuts, the company introduced reused woods such as thousand-year-old Kauri from New Zealand, Briccole from the Venice Lagoon, and Cedar from Lebanon.

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