Interdisciplinary design studio White Jacket relishes using wood to imbue spaces with soul.
Here’s a telltale sign of design director Patricia Ho’s poetic inclinations: On her firm White Jacket’s website, the description of every project undertaken by her interdisciplinary design studio is accompanied by a literary reference.
It’s little wonder that Ho, who is also the firm’s founder and a passionate bibliophile, quotes architect Frank Lloyd Wright to explain her approach to working with wood: “Wood is universally beautiful to man and is the most humanly intimate of all materials.”
According to her: “Wood brings depth and energy to a space without even trying. The material’s different colours and textures instantly change the mood of the environment.”
She is particularly partial to oak for its consistent grain and versatility. Untreated, its light tone exudes understated elegance. Once fumed, it emanates plush warmth with its rich, dark brown colour and more prominent grain.
So whether she’s designing for hospitality brands such as Rosewood Hotels or Langham Hotels, restaurant spaces or private residences, Ho uses wood to create sophisticated yet cosy environments. “Wood flooring exudes warmth that is instantly felt by guests entering the room. This gives the space “soul’,” she explains.
Today, Ho is heartened to see more reclaimed and engineered wood options in the market, as such products help slow down deforestation and offer designers more sustainable choices for their projects.
Reclaimed and engineered wood are also usually more stable than natural timber, and are easy to install and maintain, says Ho. For wood veneers, she recommends pre-finished varieties for their ease of installation, and special coating, which usually includes UV protection.
But for this literary-minded designer, ultimately, it’s wood’s organic look – its varying colours and textures – that draws her. “The uniqueness of a natural material is very much a factor in using it.”