One of the many unique aspects of Fogia is our factory in Gdansk, Poland. It’s here that we produce the majority of our pieces using a mix of old and new techniques. But our factory itself is unique in that it has its own sawmill, allowing us much greater control over this beautiful, sustainable, natural resource.
“It has to be nine or ten percent,” says Fogia’s Piotr Ryl as he swings a spiked measuring hammer into a plank of 15mm oak.
We’re standing in one of Fogia’s three drying ovens at its factory in Gdansk, Poland. Dry, hot air is being blasted down into a towering stack of beech logs, which were cut into planks at the factory’s sawmill – itself a marvel of post-war industry.
“The saw isn’t small electric band saw like you might use today for something like this. It’s a huge band-driven vertical machine saw that’s almost five metres tall. It used to be one of the biggest machines for 100 kilometres in any direction,” he beams.
Back to the drying ovens though, and Piotr’s device is bleeping. “Not there yet. When the planks come into the dryers they’re probably around 25-35 percent in terms of moisture content. So we need to dry them out slowly to nine or ten before we can continue to process the wood,” Ryl continues.
We’re only about a quarter of the way in terms of the journey or a single piece of wood as it flows through Fogia’s factory towards finding its way into a piece of furniture.
The journey itself begins at the start or the end of the year, when the state-run forests close to the factory begin their annual timber auctions. Poland’s forests are unique in that almost 80% are owned by the Polish state.
Representatives from the factory buy either cheaper lumber or more expensive timber according to demand and where it’s likely to end up in each piece of Fogia’s collection. Following purchase, the representatives then head out into the wood, where the trees which can be selected for harvesting are clearly marked with numbers.
Once they’re harvested the huge logs are delivered on equally huge trucks to the mill where they’ll eventually be loaded onto the small ‘train’ which pushes each one through the giant saw.
From our position inside the heating bays, Piotr points towards a stack of logs waiting their turn in the drier. “See right at the top, we build each stack a little roof so that while they’re air drying the top logs won’t get wet if it rains.”
He slams door number two shut so the planks can continue their drying (where they’ll stay for up to three months) and we head towards the factory, where the wood it entering the hub of the factory. Up until now, the wood seems decent enough to the untrained eye but he explains that it now needs further examination, again driving his spiked hammer into the wood to check its moisture content. Happy at the levels, we watch as a plank is cut into smaller planks and then driven through a lathe which shaves a couple of millimetres from its sides.
“Now, you see. There’s some splitting of the grain that you don’t see from the outside until now. This one’s no good,” he says throwing the piece onto the pile of offcuts destined to be reused to make heat for the factory during the winter months.
Those pieces that do pass muster head onwards into the factory where they’ll be shaped, pressure formed, spun and manipulated into the timeless Fogia forms.