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STORIES OF WOOD WITH HONEY FURNITURE

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The story of one tree spans three lifetimes thanks to Honey Furniture. The brand that repurposes old wood also gives it a voice, sharing unique stories that accompany each piece thanks to their meticulous research and passion for their craft.

Words By Dina Abedini Niknam 

January, 4th 2021

You may have noticed in our previously published article, Wood, A Wise Choice to Furnish Your Home, that Staiy is a big fan of wood as a material. It is a durable, renewable resource with a lighter carbon footprint than steel. This deems wooden furniture to be sustainable and long-lasting furniture that brings joy. Due to the fact that wood survives so many years, it is safe to say that old wood has experienced a lot through its lifetime, and has many unique and personal stories to tell. This brings us to our friends at Honey Furniture.

Honey Furniture is a sustainable luxury furniture brand born in Latvia out of a passion for creation. Zane and Reinis Maskav, the founders, are former marketing specialists who quit their jobs because they started to experience burnout. When we sat down for our interview, the couple shared that they “do everything with big passion and it was just too much because we did all the projects for our clients like it was for ourselves”. They decided that, since they approach everything in life with such immense passion and feeling then “why not to do it for ourselves”? With that thought still lingering in their minds, the Maskavs took a trip to Italy. During that vacation, the couple got acquainted with the owner of the house they were renting. She happened to love antique furniture and introduced the Maskavs to the Italian antiques scene. That is the moment when the couple realised that they wanted to work with old products and give them a new life. Zane explained that she finds modern furniture often lacks character, whereas old wood has a lot of expression to it. The pair wanted to take old wood and renovate it with a modern twist, preserving the character but rendering it no longer an antique. The only thing missing now was the supplier. 

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The Maskavs bought a summer house in the outskirts of Riga and began to renovate it. During the renovation process, a lot of the old wood was to be discarded. This was until Zane noticed that underneath the dirt and mold, the wood was in good condition and even had beautiful, natural markings on it. They took this wood home and tried to salvage it and create something new with it. The results surprised the couple, and the process opened up an exciting world for them, and so, Honey Furniture came to be. 

The couple behind Honey Furniture figured out that building companies all over Latvia that were contracted to renovate old summer houses would throw out all the old wood from these historic homes. They started to contact the building companies and to take the wood off their hands to give it a third life. Reinis and Zane believe that the wood they collect already had two lives: one as a tree in the forest, and a second as flooring, a column, or other parts of these historic latvian houses. So by repurposing this wood, they give it a third chance at life, and a chance to share its story. 

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The couple thinks it is important to preserve the character of the wood and since it’s been alive for so long, they decided it was important to dig up all the information they could about the wood, the house, and the history of the location, including information about the people who lived in those homes and to share it with the Honey Furniture community:

“We wanted to really showcase its value. You can’t just make something from old wood and not tell its story. We wanted the people who would buy it to be proud of that old wood. The inspiration for this was from history, actually. When we read the history of the house, it’s first of all very interesting, and second of all you just start to imagine the previous owners and how they lived there in that time and wonder what happened to them.We have a very difficult history here in Latvia. Two wars, brothers kill each other, and when you read that story of the places that the wood we use comes from, you can immediately sense the history between the lines, and this wood is like a witness of it. It doesn’t mean that it will have a bad shadow with it but rather it is inspiring because this wood is still here after all this.”

It started with the story of their own summer house. After some meticulous research, the Maskavs found that the house used to belong to a rich man who gave away all his riches and ran away to avoid persecution by the Soviets. The man never resurfaced again, but the Maskavs managed to find a picture of his passport in the archives and to reconstruct part of his story from the historical artifacts. Each house, and so each piece sold on Honey Furniture, has its own history and story:

“One story we have about a flat in Riga in the city area. Let’s imagine you are the floor, and you’re just lying and you’re feeling footsteps and you feel that a happy family starts to live here, and they’re dancing foxtrot. Foxtrot was very popular at the time. After that, small kid’s feet are running and touching you. This is our inspiration through feeling. We try to make these stories not so sad, but still to bring understanding to what happened in that time in the countryside, in the houses, with the families, in a very short way. We believe that it brings out added value to the wood.”

Circling back to the sustainability aspect and environmental impact of repurposing old wood, Zane says that in “our modern society, you often just buy and throw away.” Honey Furniture tries to counter this problem of mass consumption by attempting to “teach people that old wood has a fascinating history, can be kept in a good value, and it looks great”. The Maskavs also believe that when you build something in place of an existing structure, “you should keep something from the old out of respect for the planet.”

“You can always find a way to reuse an item. The real question is, why should you always buy something new?”

To end our insightful interview, we asked the Maskavs one last question: if you could tell our readers one thing, what would it be? 

“Actually, we at Honey Furniture would like to advise the readers to hold on to something which brings them good feelings and good thoughts and to always keep it near. For some people it is putting up family portraits in their offices, for others this might look completely different. It is a very important small thing, which brings you positive emotions no matter where you are and what you are going through. A little escape to where you are happy. Yeah, and if you can, spend time in the countryside. Do something crazy like jumping in a pond! It releases endorphins because it brings you back to your childhood. This is good for your soul.”