Studiomama turns scrap wood into charming animals

Studiomama unveils The Off-Cuts, a book chronicling its menagerie of wooden animals made using scraps from its workshop

Wooden animals made from wood scraps, from Studiomama Offcuts book
(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Studiomama presents The Off-cuts, an interior design book chronicling the design studio’s collection of animals made in its workshop using scraps of wood. The collection of wooden animals results from the studio’s ‘Pallet Project’, a 2009 initiative that saw founders  Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama create furniture using discarded wooden pallets found on London streets. The leftovers gave life to the ‘Offcuts’, assemblages from wood scraps, nailed and screwed together into zoomorphic guise – some obvious in their forms, some leaving the viewer to guess.

Studiomama's Offcuts: from waste to charming animals

Studiomama The Off-Cuts book cover, featuring wooden animal

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

‘[Studiomama’s practice is] never guided by preconceived aesthetic ends but by a compelling sense of curiosity,’ comments curator Libby Seller in the book’s foreword. ‘Play and wonder are vital parts of their ongoing process of discovery and experimentation.’

The studio’s playful and humorous personality emerges through the pages of the book, showcasing a succession of bunnies, owls, elephants and more creatures that could be birds, or could be dogs. ‘We normally start by taking the workshop bin and tipping all of the offcuts onto the table,’ says Tolstrup, who founded the studio with Mama in 2000, in an interview with Max Fraser within the book. ‘We have a mountain of bits in front of us and we’ll freely play around with what we find, usually finding a head or a body that would inform the rest of the pieces.’

Sketch of wooden animal from Studiomama Offcuts book

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

The project is an exercise in working with the expressive opportunities of wood: a knot becomes a bunny’s belly button, two emerging branches the eye of a mysterious long-torsoed creature. ‘We respond well to materials that are lying around: we are scavengers in that way!’ adds Mama.

The pair have always championed a sustainable approach to design, and the ‘Offcuts’ project is a testament to this direction. ‘These creatures are a small part of a bigger conversation around finding value in everything, including what we deem waste, and maybe a lot of creative minds can help with that,’ says Tolstrup. ‘The agenda has changed and taking care to repair and repurpose has become really cool.

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Studiomama Offcuts book featuring wooden animals

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Studiomama Offcuts book featuring wooden animals

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Studiomama Offcuts book featuring wooden animals

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Studiomama Offcuts book featuring wooden animals

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Studiomama Offcuts book featuring wooden animals

(Image credit: Courtesy Studiomama)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.