faux bois is pronounced fō bwah or foh-bwah. It’s the French decor term for “false wood” or the artistic imitation of wood texture, patterns, grains, and other characteristics unique to wood or trees. This decorative literal interpretation of wood has been popularly incorporated both in interior and exterior design—from your laminate floors to your garden set. While this style looks rustic and modern, its earliest form traces back to the Renaissance period. According to sources, the fake wood style was inspired by the trompe-l’œil style during the Renaissance era in Europe, but the first craft in faux bois fashion is the three-dimensional ferrocement faux bois created by 19th century French gardeners, also known as rocailleurs.
They made these ferrocements with rebar, wire mesh frames and concrete to create furniture, planters, and other decorative pieces in place of natural wood. This is due to the expensive price of importing exotic wood back then. In 1867, an exposition in Paris featured early examples of these fake wood structures. The French’s false wood has a Mexican and Texan equivalent called el trabajo rústico or “the rustic work,” with a more realistic composition, coloring, and finish. Dionicio Rodriguez is one of the most popular artist who worked in this fashion.
Gazebo for James Richard Marmion in Sweeny, Texas by artist Dionicio Rodriguez. Image via Wikimedia Commons
Years later, faux bois isn’t just three-dimensional. It’s been on flat surfaces like your wallpaper, notepads, and other 2D materials, as a print or as a texture detail. More than these, this style is also incorporated into home design materials and decorative pieces from flooring, throw pillow cases, rugs, and even ceramic pieces.
Faux bois has been everywhere that it’s no wonder it became one of the trending styles in designing and decorating interior spaces.