The three piece furniture collection I presented at this year’s Salone Satellite has been inspired by the constraint-based approach of vernacular craft designers like the Shakers, who base their work on an understanding of materials, construction and craft. Given that making is so fundamental to design and architecture, I admire this common sense approach and I hope to show as they have that a technically elegant solution will be aesthetically elegant too.
The Throne Stool and the Pew Stool are a good example of this. The design is an innovative take on a traditional timber detail; the finger joint, where the fingers intersect to create a v shaped seat and very strong structure. Although intricate, the designs are easy to make and I think a good example of tectonic design, where construction and poetry combine.
The homage chair was originally designed as a DIY piece for the open source design website The Sesame Seed Project (www.thesesameseedproject.cc). Largely inspired by the work of Enzo Mari, I started The Sesame Seed Project as a design exercise to see what could be achieved within the tightest constraints. It forced me to look for the most efficient solutions. The Homage Chair was one of the results and its strong and ergonomic structure is easily made with simple lap joints. Again, it is a design of function that expresses structure with aesthetic effect.
The Banca Desk was originally designed as a meeting table in a Bank; Bank coming from the medieval Italian Banca, referring to the bench over which money was exchanged. With this important roll the Banca needed to be both formal but plain. It’s key feature is it’s beautiful extended finger joints that connect the legs to the table top. This strong connection creates a geometric pattern akin to the triglyph of a doric frieze.
My Shaker boxes where based on the Oval Box that has long existed in our vernacular culture. With a minimum of components and manufacturing the design has been passed down for many generations. But it was the Shakers who made it their own. Refining and reducing the prototype into this well known vernacular craft classic. Within this context I thought to refine and reduce the design once again to create a really refined and simple elliptical box. With only three components and minimum of manufacturing the interlocking boxes form a still life inspired by the paintings of Giorgio Morandi
At a time when digital manufacturing is just taking off, this collection re-examines traditional techniques, materials and approaches in new and innovative ways because although technologically nothing here is new, the designs and importantly the details and structures are, showing that there is still much to be found in traditional craft.