WOODIART : A pure by product
The Woodiart project done by friend Clement Bouchoneau aka Booki is like a delicate melody played by an outstanding pianist. His fingers sharply create limited editions of retro skateboards. They are unique pieces with distinct details that make them top of the range products. After having spent numerous years in his birth region of Brittany, Booki has managed to make his way down South and create his skateboards near Biarritz. He is a member of the Switched Kick Out Surf Syndicate and always seems to be doing something: whether it’s a creative project, an exhibition, a workshop or even the well known SvrfPvnk, he never stops. I got to meet this Breton with a catchy accent…
What made you study arts and the art of cabinet making?
When you’re about 16- 17 years old you’re still in a school environment, you have to chose your path, find a job and know what you want to do in life. I’ve always been more or less of a handy man, particularly with wood. When I was a kid I used to make a lot of sheds in Brittany. I grew up in a manual world where my parents were sailors and my brother was a handyman himself. We would make our own skateboards because back in the 90’s there weren’t many about. All of this led me to do a carpentry diploma. If you want to do a specific job you have to do the relevant studies! When I was a kid I was also interested in music and became a musician. I’m a pianist. I found that cabinet making was a little bit different and had a delicate side to it, something that you can’t necessarily find in carpentry.
At one point you used to restore 18th century pieces of furniture! How did you get into that?
I was lucky enough during my studies to do a work placement for an artisan who restored furniture. At school I never learnt how to restore pieces of furniture because I was only taught on how to make the pieces. Today, if you want to make a living out of this job it’s better to restore furniture than to make it… It’s a real niche market with specific customers… For us there was always work and there still is. As things changed I became a restorer. I then went to “Boule” school in Paris. I was more artistically open minded. The teachers at this school made you want to be curious. They taught not to focus too much on the wood itself but to open up to new raw materials.
Just like the Juan Lagarrigue you took part in the “planchette” exhibition. You did some parquetry on this piece of wood. Could you tell us more about how you did this?
I always associate wood parquetry to a puzzle. I like to do puzzles. You draw your pattern and then you put it on the planks of wood, this is what we call inlay. It’s a sheet of wood. It’s between 6 mm and 1 dm thick. Afterwards, depending on the colors you want to use for you pattern, you then select a particular variety of wood. I f you want your wood to come out with a reddish tone you want use African Padauk wood. If you want the color black then you can use ebony wood. You need to know a few things about the varieties of wood so you know what colors to apply.
What are the different varieties you like to work with?
I use a bit of everything. It depends on what I fancy doing. I go and see my suppliers at what can only be described as massive wood markets. There you can find pretty much every variety of wood in the world. They import the wood and then sell to retailers or in bulk. A while back, I used to salvage wood. For valuable wood you have to buy it. Two years ago I used to use a lot of Wenge wood, a variety that I used when I was at school and I found interesting. The wood is a dark Brown, it’s almost Black. I had made a rim out of Wenge and put a gold veneer on top. I’m really into dark wood. The following year, I worked a lot with Ebony. Ebony has a really dark core with light blond edges but it truly is just one type of wood. I really try and find unusual wood so that people will think that my pieces are paintings.
Which one of your pieces has the nicest story behind it?
I have got pieces that have never seen the light of day… It all started when I started to make rudders for surfboards. I started this project when I was at school. I must have been 18 years old at the time and I remember my friend Malo had been lucky enough to go and do his work placement in California. He soon picked up on the retro Fish trend that included having wood rudders. When Malo came back from California (Wow it’s already been 10 years) he said to me “I’ll by the planks of wood and you make the rudders for me”. So outside of class and even during class I would make these rudders. My teachers would look at me with big eyes and say “What are you doing? That’s not what you were asked to do” and I would answer them by saying “yeah but I’m happy doing it” (laughs) and that’s how I brought out my rudders! After doing this project I came up with the idea of making boards out of wood but instead of making surfboards I made skateboards. This whole story about making rudders for surfboards is what led me to create the Woodiart project. However, the best projects are the ones I did with Juan like the triptych we did for the exhibition in Paris or the Down The Road exhibition that we did with the SKUFF in Bordeaux…
Is there a particular artist that you would like to collaborate with for a future project?
There really isn’t. I just go with whatever tickles my fancy. The only person who I really enjoy working with is Juan. I don’t know why it’s not like we’ve done loads of projects together but if I had an offer of a project I’d ask him…
What does your friend Booki do when his ears have stopped banging from the noise of the sander machine?
I like to chill out. That’s what I do. When Woodiart isn’t thinking about his exhibitions, he’s thinking about everything that concerns stage design and designing spaces for big brands. Woodiart is becoming Woodiart Workshop. Brand owners call me and I design furniture, I make it and I fit it. For about 3 years Woodiart kind of molded the image of my work that I offer through skateboards. Today if people get in contact with me they know they’re going to get something really wicked. That’s kind of how everything started; everyone knows that it’s really hard to cut it as an artist, unless you’re dead. I’m alive though (laughs). The exhibitions were a good way to communicate and show that Woodiart exists and Woodiart is trying to do wonderful things.
When are you going to bring back the snowboards from the 70’s?
(Laughs) It’s funny you ask because I work quite a bit with the brand name Vans in the mountains. That’s when I got a taste for snowboards. I worked for the Snow Avant première which attracted people from the snow sports industry. They were presenting their new collections and that’s when I saw snowboards made out of wood! I said to myself “damn I need to make a snowboard!” I need to find someone who loves snowboards as much as I love skateboards! We could collaborate together and come up with a product! It would be so wicked! I know how to work the wood but I don’t know how to press the skateboards. That could be an awesome project!
Will we see each other at Surf Punk 2015 next autumn?
You’re always welcome at Surf Punk! We look forward to it every year! I hope this year we can relive the experience, if we do, you better be there…
Photos credit : Mélanie Bordas
– Thanks to Booki –
– P.L –