I’m not the only fan of sheet materials, they’re used a lot in “the biz” to create unique and made to measure pieces of furniture, built ins, flooring, cladding, worktops etc. So far, i’ve dabbled in OSB, Birch and Poplar Plywood, MDF and have written about my love of Valchromat a couple of years ago.
It was actually some research on terrazzo tiles and flooring that took me down an internet rabbit hole last week… where it led me to the most beautiful material i’ve (possibly) ever seen.
Developed by young designer Conor Taylor, Conor used to be a materials librarian (I had to look up what that was too) and now he’s the creator and maker behind Foresso, the beautifully simple yet cleverly made, ‘Wood Terrazzo.’
Foresso is a new composite sheet material composed of timber, wood waste from sawmills, cement, waste lime plaster, resin, and pigment cast by hand onto an 18mm birch plywood substrate. Finished by hand and sealed with hardwax oil it is a practical sheet material that requires no specialist equipment to alter or install and is available in standard 2.4 x 1.2m sheets.
The London collection is Foresso’s first collection and a homage to London’s neighbourhoods. Terrazzo can be found everywhere in the capital from hotels in Belgravia to flooring in the London tubes. The London Collection takes cues from these familiar places to produce a new and original material, each colourway inspired by the aesthetic and rich history of the city. And to keep in line with their sustainable and eco-conscious approach to design and manufacture, these guys use timber sourced from trees felled within London. Foresso is completely authentic, both conceptually and in its make up.
We only source FSC certified timber from within Britain, almost all from within 100 miles of our workshop, and we only use pieces that are unusable for joinery due to splits, knots, or odd sizing. We have built close relationships with our local sawmills to ensure that we can make the most of every tree felled, not only using everything that can’t become planks but all of the planing waste as well.
The opportunities and applications for this product are endless. In my head i’ve already designed my coffee table with this as the top, clad a wall, built new kitchen cabinet and drawer fronts and re-laid my entire floor in it. And as we’re actually looking for a) a coffee table and b) new flooring and possibly cladding for a wall in our bedroom. The prospect of using something like Foresso excites me A LOT. So much so, I contacted Conor, 1) to tell him how much I loved his product and 2) ask him a few questions.
How on earth did the first sheet of Foresso come about? Was the plan to make exactly that, or was it a complete fluke?
“Foresso was very intentional, I had been working in a carpentry workshop for high end residential interiors and came to really dislike how disposable the approach was to most projects. In particular I would process a lot of timber and got thinking that I must be able to find a use for all the planing waste and offcuts that we couldn’t use, so I started experimenting with the aesthetic of terrazzo in mind as it really suits irregularities and makes the most of them. I wanted to develop a practical, and durable, sheet material that you could adapt to projects, and used readily available waste materials.”
Sustainability is obviously a huge factor for Foresso and Solomon&Wu – is the aim to be 100% recycled and sustainable? I’m not sure what the alternatives to Resin are, am assuming you’re working on that right now?
“Yes indeed! We are currently putting together our material development plan which will outline how we intend to hit 100% recycled, as well as removing the resin from our mixture. We are working with Imperial College London material’s science department and ETH Zurich’s sustainable concrete department to develop a new binder mixture perfectly suited to Foresso that will use waste materials from a number of different industries that are all locally available to us at our new Birmingham facility.”
Design – Ja!Coco! – Photography by Laura Meek
Can Foresso be manufactured in any colour and species of wood?
“Foresso is highly adaptable to fit the project, from custom binder colours to custom timber, the only catch is that we only use British timber so that we can supply our clients with precise information about where their materials have come from. Knowledge of provenance is very important to us and I feel that it is a key part of sustainability.”
Lia Cramer Design – Photography by Luke A. Walker
I 100% appreciate the aesthetic and benefits of investing in Foresso as a material, but do you know how it fares on floors and kitchen/bathroom worktops for example? I am selfishly asking for a project i’m working on, but I think a lot of people would love more info into its lifespan around water and in high traffic areas.
“We’ve now done projects in a wide variety of environments, including bathroom floors as well as office counter tops, both of which need to be able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. Foresso has been designed from the beginning to be durable and we supply everything sealed with a hardwax oil made for areas that get wet. That said, it’s a timber material and should be treated as such, so an occasional re-oiling and keeping to our care guidelines will help ensure that it lasts a long time.”
“Scaling up more! We’re now producing around 15 sheets per week, but we’re working towards our next production milestones while constantly developing everything we do according to our ethical principles. Recently we eliminated single use plastics from our packaging, as well as from our casting process, and we’re now working towards 0% landfill. So it’s not just about the material, but also about our business as a whole.”
Big thanks to Conor for letting me grill him on his uniquely wonderful product and his plans for the business. I know a lot of you will be reading this and thinking, well I love this, but how much is it? Good question. It’s just over £1000 for a 2.4 x 1.2m sheet, which comes pre-finished so actually it’s a pretty viable option for table tops, lengths of worktop (you’d get 4.8m of 600mm depth worktop from one sheet). Alongside their standard sheet colours from the London collection (shown above) they also offer bespoke colourways. I’m genuinely fascinated by Foresso and will be suggesting it to all my clients as an alternative to some of my other go-to sheet materials. Keep an eye on their offcuts shop too where they sell smaller, cut pieces at a discount.