Just over one week ago I attended the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York. It was my first ever major show and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The most rewarding part of the whole experience was getting to see most of my designs together in one place – something that has never actually happened before. Along with showing my coffee table, shelf and lamps, I introduced two new designs at the show: the Arc Floor Lamp and the Balance End Table (I’ll post more about those later). Special thanks go out to Hannah Hausman and Nat Hewett, who helped man the booth on Saturday and Sunday. Also, a huge thank you to my dad, who drove across the country with me in four days in a van filled with everything for the show.
Time for another post about one of my new products! Today it’s the Suspension Shelf.
The idea to make a wall-mounted “floating” style shelf came to me last summer during a brainstorming session (side note – brainstorming for me is basically doodling for hours and seeing what happens – see the picture to the right). I thought the idea had some promise and quickly got to work sketching out and building some prototypes. You can check out the results of those prototyping sessions here and here. I tried out five different designs without stopping and, when I finally took a break to consider the results, I realized none of them was actually very good. There was too much going on. The curved cutouts breaking into the shelves didn’t look right and the shapes of the fins that mounted to the wall were a bit awkward. The cabling pattern, which would have looked good by itself, just seemed excessive in the context of the shelves. In short, the designs weren’t elegant. It was back to the drawing board.
As I considered alternatives to the design problem, I came to the conclusion that I had to, in a way, start from scratch. With the previous shelves I had tried to implement my go-to cabling pattern and, while it worked well for the Contour Coffee Table and many of my sculptures, it wasn’t right in this instance. As such, I tried to approach the problem with fresh eyes. I knew I wanted the shelf to be comprised of wood and steel cable, but beyond that I tried to wipe the slate clean. How, I thought, would I have approached this problem three years ago if I were coming up with some method of cabling for the first time? Above all else, I thought, the solution had to be simple (the simplest things are often the most elegant) and once I got in this mindset, the answer came surprisingly quickly. Rather than trying to use curved pieces that just didn’t jive that well with the idea of a shelf, why not just use two simple rectangles? A vertical rectangle could be mounted to the wall and a horizontal one (the shelf) could be cantilevered out and supported by the cables just like a suspension bridge. I carefully sketched the concept out and then got to work.
The trickiest part of the design process was creating a vertical fin that would mount to the wall as well as house all the cables and copper crimps that secure them in place. As with much of my other work, a shopbot was crucial to the successful realization of the design. I drew all of the recessed areas the vertical fin would need on the computer and then had the CNC machine (basically a wood – cutting robot arm that can move in 3 axes, for those who don’t know) cut them out. I first made a prototype out of plywood just to make sure everything would work as intended and then I moved on to selecting final materials. I had just finished experimenting with mahogany and oak on the Signature Lamp and I loved the combination so much decided to stick with it. There’s plenty more I could write since I love this design, but I’ve said enough… Here are some pictures:
You can check out the Suspension Shelf product page here.
Two days ago I wrote about my idea for floating shelves and shared the first prototype. Now I’ve had a chance to try out a few new designs and I figured it would be fun to share them! Like the first prototype, these designs are pretty unpolished and are more exploratory pieces than finished products. However, I definitely feel like I’ve taken some steps forward in moving towards a final product.
The first of the new design is similar to the original prototype, but much more compact. The vertical spine on the original prototype was much too big, I thought, so I shrunk it down in this second version. I also changed the location of the crimps that secure the steel cables in place. In the original version they were located just behind a slot that ran down the middle of the spine and were completely visible if you looked at the shelf from the side. In the new version, the cables run though internal channels to the back of the spine where they are secured by crimps in a recessed area that’s totally hidden. As with the original prototype, this shelf was designed with the idea that it could be an easily stackable modular unit.
The second design is similar to the previous one, but has a curved shelf. I’m not totally sure what I think about this one. It looks sort of cool, but at the same time is not that practical. The shelf would be good for holding small knick-knacks, but little else.
The final design is my favorite. It is a longer bookshelf with supports at either end. I think this design has a nice balanced look and is the most practical of all the designs. I plan to continue playing around with this concept a little more before anything is finalized, so stay tuned!
Last week I decided it was time to start working on some new designs. I thought for a while and wrote down about 30 different ideas, then decided to just jump right in and start tackling them one at a time. The first project I’m working on involves the idea of “floating” shelves. Most of my work centers on suspension designs that use wood and steel cable and I figured I might be able to make some sort of wall-mounted shelf using these principles.
The initial idea was to create a wooden spine that would mount to a wall and then to suspend the shelf from it in such a way that the shelf never actually touches the wall or spine, but instead appears to float. I did a little sketching and then jumped right into making a prototype out of plywood just to see if making such a thing would be possible. The prototype is just a first pass and there is definitely a lot of room for improvement to the design, but with this initial go-around, I learned that the concept is definitely feasible. The prototype was plenty stable and would definitely be able to support books and other knick-knacks. Now I just need to work on aesthetics! The prototype’s spine is way too big and the shelf looks a little too bulky to me as well, so those are the first things I’ll try to tackle.