An innovative "Blushing Bar" made of red oak

The innovative red oak “Blushing Bar” is the result of the collaboration between the architects Chan + Ears and Sebastian Cox with the AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council). It consists of 10 modules made of American red oak designed to prepare cocktails, each part is for a specific element like alcohol, fruit, ice and soda. They are all connected to form the particular circular structure that distinguishes the counter. However, the main feature of the modules lies in their painting, which is the result of a new technique experimented to bring out the color inside the grain of the wood.

"The red oak has a rosy hue similar to the color of the ruddiness –  Merlin Eayrs explains – and a porous nature that simulates a dense network of capillaries. These wooden veins were then sprayed with an intense pink dye by Sebastian Cox, whose laboratory is known for the development and processing of handmade wooden accessories for contemporary design”.

Uniform holes (about 25 mm deep and 14 mm x 30 mm wide) were created in the network of grains to dye the wood of the red oak. The wood was then inserted into a special dyeing machine and holes filled with red calligraphic ink.

A series of clamps and an airtight rubber seal, fixed to the end of each single red oak module, seals the thick network of grains and the holes filled with ink. Once closed, a high-pressure air channel, which is connected to the clamps, is carefully opened, letting eight streams of compressed air enter the wood grains and the holes filled with ink. This pressurized air forces the ink into the porous structure of the red oak bar, thus highlighting the wood grain with a bright red.

David Venables, the European Director of AHEC, was initially hesitant about the idea of “making red oak even redder”, and then he let himself be conquered by the disruptive aesthetics of the final effect. “Given that one of the main reasons to avoid red oak is its color, using a red ink could be seen a provocative approach. Actually, this is what our creative talents do best: they challenge the conventional thinking, stimulate the debate and, above all, inspire. Achieving such an intense and exciting aesthetic effect using only the cellular structure of the oak has been a brilliant intuition that shows how a better understanding of the material can give us new information for the design process”.