The Tree Stools recall the communal atmosphere of sitting around the campfire, but are built for the most elegant silk-upholstered living room. Textiles mimic nature in their patterned randomness, while employing traditional quilting and embroidery techniques. The humanization of form lends a sense of charm. A couture-finished bark jacket of pin-tucked wool is concealing, insulating, even transformative, and reflects the costume aspect of dressing a home.
16" h x 14" d and 18" h x 14" d
Plywood, foam, batting, muslin, silk, wool, zippers, thread
The Un-upholstered Chair is designed to exploit the layered nature of plywood, creating a decorative textile effect by routing through the veneer to expose the interior of the ply. The metaphor is extended by the opportunities offered by the material - the pattern wraps continuously around the piece, with none of the mismatched seams of actual fabric.
While the routing would be easily accomplished by CNC today, this chair was produced by hand with a series of plywood tracing templates and a laminate trim router.
29" h x 24" w x 29" d
Walnut-veneered plywood, maple
As Lead Designer for Materials and Environments for Coalesse, a Steelcase company, I managed the annual redesign, development, and implementation of a 20,000 sq ft showroom in the Chicago Merchandise Mart, as well as smaller properties around the country.
As the premier vehicle for brand expression, showrooms balance a multitude of needs. They must be fresh, communicate the brand story, introduce new products, and provide interaction with the broader portfolio, including legacy products. I was responsible for developing narratives for overall showroom journey as well as storytelling through individual settings; specifying construction changes to the physical spaces; working with an outside branding agency to develop and implement annual themes; specifying and managing the order for all new product, including prototypes coming from development teams; overseeing installations; selecting art, propping, and tweaking the finished product; and delivering everything on time and on budget.
Over the years, Coalesse evolved from an experiment within the Steelcase family, to a well-known name within the contract furniture industry, and I am proud to have helped to grow the company’s physical spaces to reflect that change.
The Cloud Bed is inspired by Ming Dynasty-era Chinese alcove beds, and the idea of the bed as a "room within a room." Here the form is updated, and the mobility provided by the casters lends itself to flexible, open-plan contemporary living spaces.
The bed is pierced with a pattern derived from digital photographs of clouds taken on a trip to Patagonia. The cloud motif refers both to the Western association of clouds with sleep and dreams, and the Chinese symbology of clouds as a harbinger of rain and fertility. The original Chinese beds were draped with embroidered silks; here the motifs one might have found in these textiles are part of the bed itself, reinterpreted rather than imitated, much as in Chinoiserie of the past few centuries. The stack-lamination allows the pattern to be incorporated into the process of building and fully integrated with the form. The pattern becomes part of the function, too, creating a transparency that connects the interior of the bed with the exterior room.
84" l x 64" w x 82.25" h
Plywood, casters, steel rod, hardware
Selected photos by Derek Powazek
This screen is inspired by the classic black-and-white houndstooth check, which has its origin in Scottish and British tweeds. Here the pattern is blown up in scale and translated as positive and negative space. The hugely blown-up scale of the pattern morphs dressmaker details into computer-age iconography — it looks like an 80s-era video game. The panels pivot freely on brass pins in inset sockets.
76" h x 18.5" w x 5/8" d each panel
The Corrugated Cabinet & Bench originated with my ongoing interest in the aesthetic forms of honeycombs and corrugations, and how those forms are being used in new textiles, constructions and technologies. They appear sliced sections of larger corrugated structures, and function that way as well - the structural integrity of each piece relies not on glue, but rather on the compression of bent plywood pieces slotted into a frame.
With the overall forms bound by the tenets of modernist furniture - structure as decoration, an honesty about the use of materials and the relationships between organic and geometric motifs - these piece goes on to explore the rationalist iconography appropriate to the formal themes with the silk-screened forestry maps and Chantilly lace that appear on the waves. The silkscreen, placed only by the process of cutting (akin to industrial cardboard techniques) functions as couture detailing, much in the way that the contrast fabric on the inside of a shirt placket reflects the quality of its construction, neither wholly necessary nor at all superfluous.
Cabinet 34" h x 45" w x 14" d
Bench 52.5" l x 15" d x 17.5" h
Plywood, birch and walnut veneer, silk screen
Coalesse introduced the <5 (Less Than Five) chair in 2014. Made entirely of carbon fiber, it weighs under five pounds and can be lifted with a finger. A high-end bicycle frame manufacturer met Coalesse’s quality needs, and also opened the possibility of customization with color, sheen, and decal design — whatever can be done to a custom bike, can be done to the chair.
I developed the initial launch palette, which was intended to both demonstrate the chair in a range of finishes to spark designers’ creativity, and to be the stock palette for the non-customized offer. We showed light and dark neutrals, solid color and fades, metallics, and gloss and matte finishes in 6 chairs. I also helped develop the tattoo imagery used the following year to launch the full customization program.
Coalesse, a Steelcase company, launched in 2008 as a response to the changing world of work, and shifts within the contract furniture industry. Participation in trade shows and events around around the world continues to be an important strategy for introducing the company and new product lines to prospective customers.
As Lead Designer for Materials & Environments for Coalesse, I designed a range of events, from new market launch parties, to pop-up showrooms, to booths at the Milan Furniture Fair. Scopes included furniture and finishes specifications, booth build architecture and finishes, space planning, accessorizing, and project management.
Contract furniture company Coalesse needed a new website to align with a new strategy, focused on a global market and a new consumer b-2-c distribution model while still supporting traditional North America based b-2-b needs. Working with our outside branding agency and a web development agency, I led the relaunch of the corporate website from start to finish, from initial project scoping to the migration of product data to a new CMS. We completely changed the look & feel, launched new social channels, and surfaced new tools and materials for Coalesse’s bread and butter, the Architecture & Design community.