the 'oldest guitar in the world' is made from 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood, by lorenzo palmeri

the 'oldest guitar in the world' is made from 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood, by lorenzo palmeri

italian musician and designer lorenzo palmeri has designed the ‘oldest guitar in the world’ using ancient kauri, the most exotic wood in the world. the guitar is one of three designs that together form the ‘navel’ family, a trio whose shape combines the the typically modern silhouette of the electric guitar and traditional femininity of the instrument’s acoustic original.

the 'oldest guitar in the world' uses 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood

the ‘navel’ shown here in fenix NTM’s nanotech material
images courtesy of lorenzo palmeri



the navel comes in three different designs. to create the limited edition in kauri wood, palmeri collaborated with furniture maker and wood specialists, riva 1920, who helped him work with the 50,000 year old material. kaouri is a non-fossil wood, preserved from the absence of oxygen generated naturally in swampy areas of eastern europe following a cataclysm whose reason is unknown.

the 'oldest guitar in the world' uses 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood



in perfect contrast, another model uses a nanotech material known as fenix NTM, realised in collaboration with arpa indsutriale, the company behind the impressively matt material. the irregular surface topography results in a very low light reflectivity (a surface specular reflectance of 1.5 at 60°) and an anti-fingerprint, soft-touch effect. the third and final model is a classic, ‘consumer’ version which comes in classic beech wood.

the 'oldest guitar in the world' uses 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood

sketch illustrating the design of the navel’s body and neck



in all three guitars the body formed of two contrasting messages: its roundness suggests a feminine form, typical of the classical guitar, whilst a masculine angularity gives it ‘shoulders’. together the contrasting elements speak about the characteristic of the guitar’s voice, which is capable of extending from a very sweet tone to a very hard and powerful one. this dialogue between masculine and feminine is a kind of meaning that has always been subtended in the electric guitar that is highlighted here.

the 'oldest guitar in the world' uses 50,000-year-old ancient kauri wood

sketch details of the navel guitar



navel started from the desire to experiment, with materials to investigate the sound values and tactile attitude a musician draws from their experience with the instrument‘, palmeri explains. navel (belly button) is a reference to the centrality of the human being in design thinking.

  • With all the due respect for the designer’s job, this guitar is really ugly… Unbalanced deisgn, especially in the headstock part which should be the tip of beautiful expression and design… I mean with all the f***ng good deisgn that we had in the guitar history (see Les Paul, see Fender, see Paul Reed Smith, D’Angelico, ect etc) I don’t understand why in 2018 someone designs such a guitar, especially with such a precious and old wood…

    Paolo says:
  • Kauri is from New Zealand…and this guitar is a waste of swamp kauri.

    Jesse says:
  • I agree with Paolo and Jesse.

    Bruce Longhurst says:
  • Very very cool!!

    Jaime says:
  • Looks nice but how it sounds? Very curious about that!

    Laurie says:
  • Wood makes no difference on an electric. I agree, it is an old wasted piece of old wood. If it was on an acoustic I would understand.

    Brett H says:
  • Totally agree with Brett H
    but nice work anyways keep it up!

    Valentin says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
503,284 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine