Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

September 21, 2020 by  
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Before one ventures into the wilderness, where to shelter is always part of the initial planning process. While a tent or a lean-to might come to mind, if you find yourself in a particular section of the landscape near Genner, Denmark, a nest hanging from the treetops could be your chosen sleeping spot. The Hanging Shelter, called Hængende Ly in Danish, is much more than a hammock amidst the tree branches. In fact, it features a one-of-a-kind custom design constructed using traditional shipbuilding techniques. The end result is an enclosed structure perched 2.5 meters above the ground that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding nature. Related: Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment A basic ladder is the only access point to the Hanging Shelter, where visitors will immediately notice the steam bent oak that forms the curved walls and floor. In the vertical direction, eight additional arched wood frames shape the rounded walls. A thin, clear membrane covers the entire shelter, offering protection without disrupting the all-encompassing views. This unique structure was designed and produced in Genner, Denmark, by a team of skilled boat builders and engineers in collaboration with Stedse Architects. The Hanging Shelter’s location inspired the project after the architects and design partners were hiking around the Genner area. With equal passions for nature and wood, the team came together to highlight nature, design and skilled woodworking in a single overnight accommodation with minimal site impact . The architects enlisted the help of a local boat builder, who used traditional techniques to construct the finished product. Stedse Architects has a history of creating architecture centered around “sustainable construction, including climate adaptation, energy-efficient buildings, energy calculations and environmental consulting.” As an overall company goal, Stedse Architects focuses on wood architecture and rethinking traditional woodworking. Using the Hanging Shelter as an example, the company hopes that the project will “show the potential of using wood as a natural, sustainable and adaptable building material .” + Stedse Architects Photography by Thomas Illemann via Stedse Architects

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Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

DIVAK sunglasses protect your eyes and the planet

July 8, 2020 by  
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DIVAK is one company that believes that protecting your eyes can also mean protecting the planet. With new-to-the-market, wood-framed sunglasses , there’s no need to make a choice between the two. DIVAK sunglasses are the product of a partnership made in Bulgaria between Kiril, who worked as an online marketing specialist, and Ivo, a wood specialist who spent years making sunglasses for fun. More than simply protective eyewear, DIVAK sunglasses are made with the very specific goal of honoring nature during the design and manufacturing process. To meet this goal, the duo developed a process of turning wood into a fashion statement. The resulting sunglasses are eco-friendly, ultra-strong and made of real wood . Related: Sustainably sourced sunglasses built to last a lifetime rather than a season Relying on natural materials was important to the DIVAK team, so it selected birch wood, a natural, biodegradable and renewable resource. The company also uses only non-toxic glue and recyclable materials for the other components of the sunglasses. As an added show of its commitment to nature, DIVAK will plant five trees into the wilds of Bulgaria for every pair of sunglasses purchased. Handcrafted to enhance the wooden texture, the sunglasses are made using an eight-step process that makes the wood look rich and elegant and highlights the grain for an individual look to each pair. To further the quality of construction, DIVAK lenses are made with high-quality German triacetate. The polarized lenses offer UV 400 protection and are pressure-, impact- and water-resistant. DIVAK sunglasses come in two universal designs: The Tribal model comes in both large and small sizes, while the Cat Eye model features a more rounded appearance and is offered in one standard size. No matter the style , each pair is accompanied by a matching wooden case. To encourage a full circle of sustainable practices, the company will send free replacement parts if a frame or temple breaks, and it also encourages customers to return old DIVAK sunglasses. DIVAK will dismantle the sunglasses, keep parts that can be used again and recycle the other pieces. Plus, it offers a 50% discount on the next pair. The company’s Kickstarter campaign was a raging success, earning $14,571 of a $5,000 goal with 194 backers. Now fully funded, the team has moved into production and is working through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure shipments to its backers. DIVAK is accepting additional pre-orders, too. + DIVAK Images via DIVAK

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DIVAK sunglasses protect your eyes and the planet

The Iceberg Sofa draws attention to melting glaciers

June 15, 2020 by  
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Fnji, a design brand based in China, is using its platform to raise awareness for global warming , specifically the effect on sea ice. The new Iceberg Sofa is a sculptural furniture piece made of interconnecting gray-blue blocks, inspired by melting ocean glaciers and set to be released in September 2020. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program , a federally-mandated organization that researches changes in the global environment and its impacts on society, the world’s average temperature has increased by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s. Even worse, average global temperatures have exceeded the last century’s average every year since 1980. Minimum sea ice extent (the ocean area that has an ice concentration of 15% or more) in the Arctic has steadily decreased by 33% since the year 1979. Related: Floating ICEBERG creatively confronts global warming To raise awareness of this issue, Fnji founder Guqi Gao designed the Iceberg Sofa. The sofa is made of Kvadrat Fiord multipurpose wool fabric that combines blended and undyed yarn, giving the piece a dotted texture mimicking the blue and white glitter of a polar glacier. An interlocking block design gives it an organic-yet-organized look, with the added benefit of a comfortable touch thanks to the high-quality wool. Sculptural in form, every “ice block” making up the sofa is unique. Beneath the fabric, the internal structure is processed independently and each sponge is crafted separately before being assembled together under the surface, a technical process requiring detailed skill. Each block is meant to represent its own identity and provide different perspectives independent of the entire piece. Different shapes come into play once again in the solid wooden base, which is designed to represent melted portions of glaciers with its curves. This isn’t the first staggering environmental issue that Fnji has addressed through design. The Iceberg Sofa is a continuation of the Crestline Collection, which takes inspiration from nature and environmental protection. + Fnji Images via Fnji

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

May 11, 2020 by  
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A stunning cabin in upstate New York is making waves thanks to groundbreaking technology that allowed it to be 3D-printed with wood waste. Headed by architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH was able to repurpose wood from ash trees damaged by an invasive beetle species to build the Ashen Cabin, a modern, tiny cabin completely constructed using 3D-printing of timber and concrete. Located in Ithaca, New York, the innovative cabin definitely stands out for its distinct shape. Ash wood cladding connects it to the lush woodland setting, while whimsical features, such as curved wood paneling and thick, triangular concrete pillars, create a futuristic, almost spaceship-like, feel. The prominent use of ash wood was specifically chosen to make use of damaged ash wood trees. Related: 3D-printed micro cabin in Amsterdam welcomes anyone to spend the night Tunneling into the trees’ bark to lay eggs, the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to America’s ash tree population. In their wake, these ruthless beetles leave 8.7 billion trees across the country so damaged that they cannot even be used by sawmills as lumber. Specifically, nearly one in 10 ash trees in New York state are destroyed by the pesky insects. But now, working with innovative design methods, HANNAH has discovered a remedy that can’t quite protect the trees from their beetle nemesis but enables a sustainable way to use the waste wood . Zivkovic explained, “Infested ash trees are a very specific form of ‘waste material’ and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should — develop strategies to use them as a material resource.” To begin the project, the firm decided on a two-tier process, first building a robotic platform that was specifically designed for processing the irregular ash trees and a separate system for using 3D-printed concrete. The first step was repurposing a six-axis robot arm found on eBay to cut pre-shaped planks that fit together like puzzle pieces. The repurposed robot allowed the designers to work with the otherwise worthless wood waste. The second step involved creating a solid, eco-friendly base for the cabin. Again going with a highly innovative processing strategy, the team manufactured nine interlocking, 3D-printed concrete segments that were used to form the footing, cabin floor, chimney and interior fixtures. This method avoided the need to build a large frame and base for the cabin. Using the minimum amount of concrete possible, the designers were able to reduce the project’s overall footprint while providing a strong, resilient base. With the durable concrete base and unique shaping of the wood volume, the cabin shows just how fun and functional sustainable architecture can be. + HANNAH Via The Architect’s Newspaper Photography by Andy Chen and Reuben Chen via HANNAH; drawings by HANNAH

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

May 11, 2020 by  
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A stunning cabin in upstate New York is making waves thanks to groundbreaking technology that allowed it to be 3D-printed with wood waste. Headed by architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH was able to repurpose wood from ash trees damaged by an invasive beetle species to build the Ashen Cabin, a modern, tiny cabin completely constructed using 3D-printing of timber and concrete. Located in Ithaca, New York, the innovative cabin definitely stands out for its distinct shape. Ash wood cladding connects it to the lush woodland setting, while whimsical features, such as curved wood paneling and thick, triangular concrete pillars, create a futuristic, almost spaceship-like, feel. The prominent use of ash wood was specifically chosen to make use of damaged ash wood trees. Related: 3D-printed micro cabin in Amsterdam welcomes anyone to spend the night Tunneling into the trees’ bark to lay eggs, the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to America’s ash tree population. In their wake, these ruthless beetles leave 8.7 billion trees across the country so damaged that they cannot even be used by sawmills as lumber. Specifically, nearly one in 10 ash trees in New York state are destroyed by the pesky insects. But now, working with innovative design methods, HANNAH has discovered a remedy that can’t quite protect the trees from their beetle nemesis but enables a sustainable way to use the waste wood . Zivkovic explained, “Infested ash trees are a very specific form of ‘waste material’ and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should — develop strategies to use them as a material resource.” To begin the project, the firm decided on a two-tier process, first building a robotic platform that was specifically designed for processing the irregular ash trees and a separate system for using 3D-printed concrete. The first step was repurposing a six-axis robot arm found on eBay to cut pre-shaped planks that fit together like puzzle pieces. The repurposed robot allowed the designers to work with the otherwise worthless wood waste. The second step involved creating a solid, eco-friendly base for the cabin. Again going with a highly innovative processing strategy, the team manufactured nine interlocking, 3D-printed concrete segments that were used to form the footing, cabin floor, chimney and interior fixtures. This method avoided the need to build a large frame and base for the cabin. Using the minimum amount of concrete possible, the designers were able to reduce the project’s overall footprint while providing a strong, resilient base. With the durable concrete base and unique shaping of the wood volume, the cabin shows just how fun and functional sustainable architecture can be. + HANNAH Via The Architect’s Newspaper Photography by Andy Chen and Reuben Chen via HANNAH; drawings by HANNAH

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

May 11, 2020 by  
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A stunning cabin in upstate New York is making waves thanks to groundbreaking technology that allowed it to be 3D-printed with wood waste. Headed by architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH was able to repurpose wood from ash trees damaged by an invasive beetle species to build the Ashen Cabin, a modern, tiny cabin completely constructed using 3D-printing of timber and concrete. Located in Ithaca, New York, the innovative cabin definitely stands out for its distinct shape. Ash wood cladding connects it to the lush woodland setting, while whimsical features, such as curved wood paneling and thick, triangular concrete pillars, create a futuristic, almost spaceship-like, feel. The prominent use of ash wood was specifically chosen to make use of damaged ash wood trees. Related: 3D-printed micro cabin in Amsterdam welcomes anyone to spend the night Tunneling into the trees’ bark to lay eggs, the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to America’s ash tree population. In their wake, these ruthless beetles leave 8.7 billion trees across the country so damaged that they cannot even be used by sawmills as lumber. Specifically, nearly one in 10 ash trees in New York state are destroyed by the pesky insects. But now, working with innovative design methods, HANNAH has discovered a remedy that can’t quite protect the trees from their beetle nemesis but enables a sustainable way to use the waste wood . Zivkovic explained, “Infested ash trees are a very specific form of ‘waste material’ and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should — develop strategies to use them as a material resource.” To begin the project, the firm decided on a two-tier process, first building a robotic platform that was specifically designed for processing the irregular ash trees and a separate system for using 3D-printed concrete. The first step was repurposing a six-axis robot arm found on eBay to cut pre-shaped planks that fit together like puzzle pieces. The repurposed robot allowed the designers to work with the otherwise worthless wood waste. The second step involved creating a solid, eco-friendly base for the cabin. Again going with a highly innovative processing strategy, the team manufactured nine interlocking, 3D-printed concrete segments that were used to form the footing, cabin floor, chimney and interior fixtures. This method avoided the need to build a large frame and base for the cabin. Using the minimum amount of concrete possible, the designers were able to reduce the project’s overall footprint while providing a strong, resilient base. With the durable concrete base and unique shaping of the wood volume, the cabin shows just how fun and functional sustainable architecture can be. + HANNAH Via The Architect’s Newspaper Photography by Andy Chen and Reuben Chen via HANNAH; drawings by HANNAH

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Architects turn waste wood into a 3D-printed cabin in upstate New York

Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens

May 11, 2020 by  
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We’ve already seen interspecies transmission of COVID-19 happen in the Bronx , where an asymptomatic zookeeper infected five tigers and four lions. Now, as the infamous Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park reopens, will human visitors expose innocent tiger cubs to coronavirus ? Droves of people descended upon Oklahoma’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, made famous by the Netflix series ‘Tiger King’, when it reopened May 2. People are drawn by the hard-to-resist attraction of petting adorable tiger cubs, despite the cautions by wildlife experts. Related: ‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in US National Geographic reported on the first day the park resumed operations, noting the lack of pandemic precautions. The cubs worked long shifts and were expected to look cute for visitors who sometimes waited 4 hours to pet them. With hundreds of people feeding and petting tigers, the felines could contract the virus . It could also easily spread among the throngs of humans yearning to interact with tigers. Oklahoma’s pandemic restrictions had closed the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park for about a month. Many Netflix viewers had eagerly awaited its reopening. The true crime documentary miniseries ‘Tiger King’ focused on the life of former park owner Joe Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, who is now serving 22 years in prison for his crimes against humans and tigers. Maldonado-Passage’s former partner, Jeff Lowe, now owns the animal park. To keep a constant supply of darling cubs, some private facilities “speed breed” their tigers, according to National Geographic. Newborn cubs are quickly removed from their mother so that she goes into heat and breeds again. Cub-petting facilities constantly need little tigers that are in the sweet spot of 8 to 12 weeks old. Any bigger and they’ll be dangerous enough to hurt visitors. Tigers may then be bred, exhibited or possibly killed. At press time, the Bronx Zoo tigers and lions that tested positive for coronavirus are all recovering well. There have also been a few isolated cases of pet cats and dogs with the novel coronavirus. Via National Geographic Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Tigers, humans at risk for coronavirus as ‘Tiger King’ zoo reopens

Community collects locally sourced materials to construct a school in Vietnam

May 4, 2020 by  
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The Xuan Hoa commune in the Lao Cai province of northwest Vietnam is, like much of the surrounding area, a region that has suffered from economic hardships in the past. A large number of households in Xuan Hoa live in extreme poverty, including many of the school district’s 78 students aged 6 to 11 years old. The new Dao school by 1+1>2 Architects was completed in 2019 to provide provide education to the area’s children in first through fifth grades. All of the students are ethnic minorities from the Tay, Nung, Dao and Mong groups; this multicultural aspect was a strong motivating factor in the development of the project. A combination of shared open spaces and a school yard helps inspire students from different groups to interact. Related: A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun The former school housed five classrooms, two of which were temporary structures for students from grade four and five, and was very vulnerable. The original structures were made of deteriorating wood and were close to collapse, damaged and fitted with years of poorly adapted repair jobs. The new school was developed by the Vietnam Sustainability Social Enterprise and coordinated, designed and constructed by 1+1>2 Architects. Vietnam-based Transsolar advised on the climate aspects of the project, which included an open-style concept to join bricks with a specified wall thickness of 15 centimeters for the main structure. This concept keeps the school interior at a comfortable temperature for the students and teachers by taking advantage of the daylight and wind to help cool down the building during the hot summer months. More than 3,000 bricks were crafted from local soil to build the school; over 4,000 dried leaves were collected by the community for the traditional thatched roof. + 1+1>2 Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Son Vu via 1+1>2 Architects

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Community collects locally sourced materials to construct a school in Vietnam

A contemporary German home celebrates energy-saving, seasonal living

April 28, 2020 by  
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Architecture firms Jurek Brüggen and KOSA architekten teamed up to design Haus am See — German for “House by the Lake” — a minimalist home crafted for seasonal living. Located on the highest point of Werder Island near the border of Germany and Poland, the contemporary residence has been deliberately stripped down to a restrained palette of exposed concrete and wood in striking contrast to its more ornate neighbors. The Haus am See is located among four other houses with very different architectural styles, including Neo-Gothic Belvedere, Art Deco, Neo Classical and a bungalow design from the German Democratic Republic era. In contrast, the new residence has no ornamentation; the building consists of a lower, bunker-like concrete volume and a wooden pavilion on the roof that looks out over views of the Havel River. All the construction materials are left exposed and unpainted. Related: Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape The interior is likewise minimalist ; however, it feels much warmer thanks to the use of light-colored timber surfaces throughout. The wooden staircase that leads from the ground floor to the roof doubles as a bookshelf. Large windows and sliding doors provide a constant connection to the outdoors, including the garden with a stone outdoor pool. To reduce energy costs, the architects designed the home to follow the concept of seasonal living. In winter, the residents can close off the pavilion using folding doors and a sliding window, thus condensing their living area to the ground floor, which is partly buried into the slope to take advantage of the earth’s thermal mass . In summer, the home’s living space is doubled with the use of the pavilion and terrace. “The seasonal living concept brings a millennia-old cultural technique into the present day,” the architects explained. “In contrast to conventional energy-saving houses, which isolate themselves from their surroundings, it shows how we can effectively conserve resources while living sustainably in connection with the environment. The seasonal concept is a strategy for sustainable living in a time of excessive insulation regulations.” + Jurek Brüggen + KOSA Images via Jurek Brüggen

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Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
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Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

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