How do you stand out in a world of mass-produced plastic keyboards? French design firm Orée believes the answer lies in wood.
“Wood moulds itself to your fingers over time,” said Yasunobu Takata of Orée Design. “It’s a natural material.”
It certainly felt premium when I picked it up, with a smooth and polished finish. I was expecting a heavy piece of wooden equipment, but the keyboard is surprisingly light.
Except for the circuitry and other technical bits, each Orée Board is made entirely out of one piece of wood – a choice of either walnut or maple. You can tell that by looking at the grain of the wood, which flows from body to keys seamlessly. The keyboard is carved and assembled by hand in France by experienced craftsmen.
The keys feel nicely spaced-out and springy with lots of travel, although some of the smaller function keys tend to stick if I pressed too hard.
The letters and symbols are carved into each key, and give your fingers a bit of feedback as they fly across the keyboard. You can choose from three different fonts for the keys, or have them come completely blank for that minimalist feel.
Speaking of function keys, don’t expect them to work perfectly on Windows PCs. OEMs usually design their own media and function keys, but Orée Board only offers one keyboard layout. The Mac version of the keyboard won’t face such problems since they’re all the same.
The upper left corner of the keyboard can be engraved with a custom message or design for an added touch of personalisation.
The Orée Board is eco-friendly, too. Raw wood for the keyboard is sourced through a non-profit organisation and only from sustainable logging. Plus, it requires only a pair of AAA batteries to power it through three to four months of heavy use.
But all these come with a hefty cost: the €125 price tag does not include shipping, and includes no warranty. In fact, technical support will be very limited as there are no local service centres and you have to ship your keyboard back if anything goes wrong.
Still, the Orée keyboard will no doubt find itself popular in a niche market, as there surely are people who will find its design worth paying for. Coupled with the leather case (sold separately), the keyboard is great for pairing with tablets.
If you find the Orée keyboard to be the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone, you’ll have to act fast. It’s only available for order through its website and will no doubt take a while to craft and ship.