Wood artist Andrea Brugi transforms the materials he gathers from the countryside surrounding his Tuscan home into poetry you can use. But from his signature cutting boards to tables and chairs, the humble artisan insists it’s the wood that has the last word on how each piece will look. En route to Denmark for the summer, Andrea talks to us about his love of timber and why the idyllic life he shares with Danish wife Samina Langholz doesn’t stop him from dreaming big.
J: Tell us about your background and how you came to work with wood.
A: I grew up in an olive grove. The surroundings have always been nature, craftspeople and a simple life with passionate people. I guess my real passion for wood started when I was helping my dad. He was an electrician and was always helping someone who needed a hand in our village. I fell in love with the old houses, how they were constructed, and all of the little quirks that were made or repaired over the years. Today Samina and I live in one of those houses in Montemerano. It was built in1678 and we have restored every square metre with our bare hands – and hearts.
J: Can you describe your work in three words?
A: Nature, recycling, ‘preserve the past’.
J: What are your three favourite cities?
A: Montemerano, Copenhagen and New York.
J: You live in an idyllic medieval village in Tuscany. How does living somewhere like Montemerano influence your work?
A: Montemerano is where I was born and I am a product of my village. I don’t think I would be who I am, work or think like I do if I had been born in a different place.
J: What is the hardest part of your work? Which part is the easiest?
A: First I have to say finding the wood to work with is a long and difficult process! The easiest part is designing the cutting boards. That said, I am not in charge of or alone in designing the boards. The wood gives me directions and many challenges.
J: Where do you go for inspiration?
A: My wife and our daughter are my inspirations.
J: Your work is both beautiful and useful. Which is more important to you?
A: I like the idea that what I do is something you use and need in your daily life. If you think it is beautiful too that only makes me happier.
J: Apart from wood, what materials are you enjoying working with right now?
A: I like to work with iron, stone and wood. Samina and I designed our kitchen three years ago with these three materials. The result is stunning and this is something we would love to do more of in the future.
J: You recently collaborated with the iconic Danish furniture brand Fritz Hansen at Milan design week. Tell us a little about that experience and how it came about.
A: We had this great opportunity thanks to the super talented stylist Christine Rudolph who asked us if we would like to design some new pieces for Fritz Hansen’s showroom at the Salone del Mobile 2015.
J: Do you have a dream project for the future?
A: Wouldn’t it be amazing to become part of a bigger group of creative people, designing for a beautiful restaurant or a hotel? We would love that.
J: What are you looking forward to?
A: The next couple of months I am here in Denmark with my family in our little wooden house. This is my life right now and I want to enjoy it.