2015 VMODERN Furniture Design Competition
Sheehan Wachter, Cruz Crawford
This project is about the use of reclaimed materials and rudimentary construction to generate an intelligent and beautiful design. Rather than derive material intelligence from complex processes or computer simulation, this project mines the timeless intelligence of natural forms in the pursuit of a material sophistication. The form is principally a concrete block, carved and excavated from the inside to create material specificity. Since the ideal structural distribution of concrete is to reduce in volume as forces diminish and to increase in distribution as forces coalesce, a diffusion pattern of voided spaces from within is appropriate. Because of the nature of how trees grow to diffuse their limbs for maximum exposure and balance their weight through even distribution, the branching pattern of tree growth is a perfect model for this voided distribution. The resulting design is essentially a boolean operation between a series of branching tree limbs and a concrete block. The use of antithetical material conditions perfectly combines to generate the ideal bench, simultaneously creating a geometric and material dialogue of contrasting conditions that is both beautiful and intelligently constructed.
The construction of the bench is a process of literally combining tree branches into the concrete formwork, a literal boolean exclusion. The wood is then left to be extracted once the concrete has been cast, either carved away to leave a thin veneer as finish, or rapidly fired, leaving a scorched blackened concrete finish. A contrasting material palette, reinforcing the respective harsh and sensuous qualities of the design, emphasizes the antithetical form of block and branch.
The design is also forms a dialogue on the use of materials in design, extracting not substance but form, from wood. The emphasis on the use of almost primitive means to extract an efficient use of materials additionally circumvents the potentially harmful and overabundant industrial processing of lumber, without the need for treating, milling, or harvesting of unnecessary resources. Because of this adaptive use, previously scrapped pieces of wood can be utilized and even extracted without the need for completely killing trees, revitalizing a renewable but overtaxed resource.