This design was inspired by the engine cowling on a Boeing Dreamliner I saw on the tarmac as I landed in San Francisco after having taught in New Zealand for 9 weeks. The cowling had these beautiful, graceful arches, called ‘chevrons,’ and they are for noise suppression.
I started the ideation process for the barstool in my typical way — sketching then making quarter-sized models. Early in my design exploration the legs were made of arches similar to the chevrons. As I began to explore further and think about how much wood would be required to create those arches I realized that the full arch wasn’t necessary to either the structure of the barstool or the aesthetic I was trying to achieve. The final design gives me the beautiful arch-like shapes I was after and features the exposed dowel detail at the bottom of the legs that is often found in my work.
I chose to make the first set of stools out of ash. I knew I wanted to create a textured surface and ash sandblasts beautifully. I ebonized one stool and bleached the other. Ebonizing is a process of exposing the wood to two solutions that cause a chemical reaction in the wood cells and turns them a rich black color. Bleaching is a process that leaches pigment from wood and turns it a bone white color. I chose two different colors of blue leather to upholster the stools. This is a bit of a nod to the colors of the ocean that were such a part of my life during my time in New Zealand.
The legs were all hand sculpted to include hardlines and gently rounded planes. I feel that furniture should be explored as much with the fingers as with the eyes and I find these details provide tactile elements to a piece.
One of the fun aspects of these stools is that my brother fabricated the footrests. He built a roll former and rolled the stainless steel bar stock to the required radius, drilled the holes for the hardware and put a nice satin finish on the metal. This was our first collaboration!
I chose Osmo Polyx-Oil in a stain sheen for the final finish. This European finish is the darling of the finishing world at the moment due to its low VOC content, ease of application and durability.
I have received many compliments on the barstools. They are quite comfortable and visually engaging, two important requirements!