The line between handsome and handy grows fuzzier by the day. Wood once used as cladding has become structural, while remaining decorative, and what we put on the floor has moved up the wall and often onto the ceiling. Materials are pulled out of context to striking effect. Even veneer is being trained to stand on its own, in three sculptural dimensions.

Veneer serves as a low-cost alternative to solid wood, letting us retain a natural aesthetic without breaking the bank. Charlotte Pommet and Elliot Kendall developed a forming technique that is based on the woodgrain of each species used in their project. Laminating the resultant layers of veneer together gives the product extra volume and strength without adding to its weight.

Michael Sodeau’s trade-fair installation for Danish wood specialist Dinesen doubled as a registration point for visitors to London’s Design Junction. The large A-frame tepee – 8.5 m high, 7.5 m long – was made out of timber flooring from Dinesen. Walls rising directly from the floor multitasked as ceiling, roof and gables, showcasing the strength of the materials in a structural context.

Photos Ruth Ward

You can build a friendly house out of flooring. For the American Hardwood Export Council and the London Design Festival, Alison Brooks Architects worked with Arup to realize, in cross-laminated tulipwood, the Smile: a 34-m-long rectangular dwelling. The hollow ‘tube’ illustrates the structural and aesthetic potential of an engineered timber harvested from fast-growing trees and suitable for building walls, floors and ceilings. Said to be stronger than concrete and machinable to super-high tolerances, the material can reduce construction time by up to 30% when used for prefabrication.

Photos Paul Riddle and Ceri Edmunds