By Rizalina K. Araral, S&T Media Service, DOSTFPRDI

Niccolo Jose, a Filipino artist who specializes in projects made from recycled Philippine hardwood, is the proud creator of various remarkable pieces of furniture. He is also the owner of Studio 10 10, an art and design company which focuses on one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, large art projects, and crafted interiors. He likewise co-owns Green Canyon, the country’s first Eco and Art Resort.

Filipino artist Niccolo Jose makes furniture from recycled Philippine hardwood.

From 2012 to early 2015 , Jose dried his raw materials using a diesel-fired mobile lumber dryer developed by the Department of Science and Technology – Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI). “The FPRDI dryer sped up our time for seasoning wood from four to six months to three days to five days only, resulting in greater productivity,” he says.

“As productivity increased, more recycled wood was used, from 400 board feet to 2,500 board feet a month; new raw materials such as fallen trees, roots, twigs, and branches were tapped; and our creations expanded from custom furniture only to custom-built interiors and limited edition art pieces. Our market grew, from Batangas to include Manila, Pampanga, and other provinces,” he adds.

With a background in Environmental Studies and sculpture, and five years of experience in working on theatrical productions in the U.S., Jose is an “eco warrior” who hopes to “infect” many Filipinos with his love for both nature and the arts. He says not a single tree was cut for any of his masterpieces, as each of them is made from reclaimed and upcycled wood, mostly between 50 to 300 years old.

In working with a variety of wood ages, he noticed that even if the wood was quite old, it still required a dryer as there was still a bit of moisture in the material that could lead to movements and cracks in the resulting products.

Jose has mounted three solo art exhibits so far. During the 2015 APEC summit, he was invited to display his  collection of sculptural rocking chairs, and was the only artist featured in the International Media Center.

“All my shows were greatly helped by the use of the FPRDI lumber dryer,” he says.

According to FPRDI’s Senior Science Research Specialist Engr. Ruben A. Zamora, “The Institute’s lumber dryer has been serving the country’s wood-based and related industries for four decades now. Kiln-dried wood is achieved by artificial drying using a kiln, which is like a very large oven.”

“DOST-FPRDI offers an affordable yet effective kiln-dryer that lowers the moisture content of lumber to the intended level. Fuel for the dryer may either be agro-forest wastes or gas, like in the case of [Jose’s] company,” he adds. “Wood tends to shrink or swell if not dried thoroughly,” explains Zamora. “Distortion or warping can cause problems, especially when wood is used as beams and trusses, or in furniture pieces where each part should fit perfectly.

Kiln-dried wood may be more expensive, but it is more economical than ‘green wood’ or air-dried wood in the long run.”

“Kiln-drying, combined with proper wood preservation and the right choice of species, makes wood less vulnerable to attacks of termites and powder-post beetles,” he points out. “It can extend the material’s service life to at least 10 years more.”

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2016 issue.