YouTuber Simone Giertz is known for making all kinds of weird and cool stuff. Some of her creations are actually practical, others… not so much. But they’re always brilliant, perhaps none more so than this incredible table. If you love jigsaw puzzles, you’re going to go nuts for this project.
The problem with big puzzles is how much space they take up. If you don’t dedicate yourself to solving the puzzle as quickly as possible, it can engulf your entire dining table for months at a time. Simone’s solution makes space for both the puzzle and a functional tabletop using a mechanical top that rolls out of the way when you want to play.
As Simone explains in the video, you use a hand crank to roll back the surface and then lift up the lower tabletop to access the puzzle. Her YouTube video goes into detail of exactly how she built it. She also demonstrates a few early prototypes to show how the idea developed.
Even if this project is too advanced for you to pull off anytime soon, it’s an awesome source of inspiration to push you to learn more and grow your skills.
Twenty next-generation designers from 16 countries presented exciting new objects made of wood at the Design Museum London this week. Created for Discovered, a collaborative platform between Wallpaper Magazine and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the exhibition highlights works created as a reflection of how lockdowns and isolation affected each designer’s life and creative process.
‘Emerging designers from across the globe have experienced personal and professional challenges during the pandemic, and the 20 young practitioners have produced a collective display that is inspiring and which shows the resilience and ingenuity of creative design,’ comments Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of the Design Museum.
That loose brief translates to strikingly different functional and decorative objects made of American red oak, cherry, and hard and soft maple. The artists worked in collaboration with specialist workshops to explore the sustainability of these underused yet widely available wood types, which grow abundantly in American hardwood forests.
Take, for instance, “Lahmu” by Swedish signer Sizar Alexis. “Having lived through the Iraq war in the 1980s, Alexis imagined his home as a bunker, protecting his family and newborn son during the pandemic. Drawing from the similarities between his own childhood experience and his young son’s, his sculptural pieces are defined by stark monolithic forms and stillness, representing the emotional connection to his thoughts in the pandemic. The chunky volumes serve as side tables or stools, and together as a bench or low sideboard, inspired by bunker architecture. Alexis chose two contrasting woods: one half of his piece is in American cherry, for its warmth, and one half is in red oak, its surface burned with a scorching technique.”
Mac Collins of Newcastle, UK used cherry wood for his piece, “Concur.” His work takes a more positive view of the isolation he experienced during the pandemic. “For me, the word has always carried romanticised connotations of contentment, serenity, contemplation and a sense of withdrawal from the rigmarole of socially prescribed routine,” he says. Books took on a new significance for Collins during his time alone, so his piece reflects a desire for comfortable reflection and reading.
Pascal Hien’s striking “Migo 01” pieces made of red oak are multifunctional stools you can sit on in multiple configurations. “You can adapt it in various ways, there is no front or back, no right or wrong.” Each one is made of a single plank of red oak with parts held together by dovetails.
Check out the rest of the exhibition at Wallpaper, or see it in person at Design Museum in London through October 10.
The most sustainable furniture factory in the world doesn’t just produce gorgeous modern eco-friendly couches, tables and chairs – it’s a stunning work of architecture in its own right. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), “The Plus” is tucked into a lush Norwegian forest in the village of Magnor. In addition to its 6,500-square-meter open production facility for furniture company Vestre, the complex will function as a public 300-acre park for hiking and camping, and become a landmark for Norway’s climate goals.
What makes the factory itself so sustainable? It’s made of recycled steel, low-carbon concrete and locally sourced timber, and it’s powered by more than 1,200 solar panels and geothermal wells. Excess heat created during the manufacturing process will also help heat the complex. It’ll also employ futuristic technology like smart robots, self-driving trucks and a tablet that manages the entire factory. Overall, The Plus will use 90% less energy than a similarly sized conventional factory, and produce 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The Plus is designed so that visitors can watch and understand the manufacturing process, getting a peek at how Vestre’s sustainable furniture is made. The building is designed to look like a giant “plus” symbol, with the four main production halls occupying each “arm.” Those include the warehouse, color factory, wood factory and assembly, all connecting at the center. Each wing of the factory features an alternating ceiling corner lifted to create inclined roofs that provide peeks into the production halls and outside to the forests. A central hub wraps around a public circular courtyard where the latest furniture collections can be exhibited, and an outdoor plaza acts as a panopticon that allows visitors and staff to view manufacturing as it happens.
“From all four sides of the buildings, visitors and staff are invited to hike around the facility and conclude on the green roof terrace, transforming the furniture factory museum into a campus in the woods,” says BIG. “An ADA-accessible ramp allows wheelchairs and strollers to meander the serpentine path and enjoy the immersive experience of being among the pine trees. The Plus reinforces Vestre’s vision of combining social and democratic spaces with a future enriched by technology yet grounded in history and nature.”
A Swedish company called Vaarnii wants to help usher in a new era of interior design: one dominated by the refreshing beauty of pine wood. Their collections of minimalist furniture and decorative objects is designed to endure for generations and eliminate unnecessary frills to put the focus on the wood itself. The result is a series of creations that are boldly simple and clearly durable.
“Pine is substantial, characterful, full of natural pattern and colour and, if grown correctly, it is strong. The Finnish vernacular style that inspires us is a direct product of this material: Pine was always the wood of choice for Finnish craftspeople because it was local, free and abundant; an embarrassment of riches. As a result, the making processes and design thinking that shaped our domestic lives is pine shaped and pine coloured; log houses, carved implements, rustic furniture. There is a primitiveness, a raw beauty, a reassuring strength, generosity of scale and warmth to this architecture and object culture that we want to return to and celebrate again.”
Scots pine is the most common tree growing Finland, making up about 44% of all forests. Vaarnii chooses slowly grown trees for carpentry and cabinetmaking, which are heavier and hardier, sustainably harvesting the trees during the coldest months of the year.
“Pine is full of natural oils and resins which, over time, react with UV light to bring a rich honey colour to the wood. This characterful mellowing is something, we believe, to look forward to. Cracks, knots and lively grains are all used to maximum decorative advantage. A black filler is used to fill naturally occurring cracks. Making these visible is true to our values of honest furniture making.”
Vaarnii’s pine products include a blocky dining chair; a stool with rounded legs; coffee, dining and side tables; a lounge chair with ergonomically rounded surfaces; and a series of accessories like mirrors, bowls, trays, wall hooks and doorstops. Each item has an impressive solidity and heft that elucidates its quality.
“The designs for the inaugural Vaarnii range celebrate all the natural qualities of pine: A wide and expressive grain means pine lends itself, structurally and aesthetically, to being used in large expanses. And so, our designs use pine generously: Swathes of solid wood make bold and heavy designs. Which is just as well, as the furniture is intended to serve generations.”
Twenty-four woodworkers from 12 different high schools and colleges in the U.S. put their talent on display and won a range of honors and prizes at the 2021 AWFS Fresh Wood Competition, which wrapped up at the end of July. The winning projects included everything from a fun folding chair design to a finely crafted guitar, and from the look of the finalists, it must have been hard for the judges to choose.
The special theme for 2021 is “Remote Woodworking,” asking the entrants to show off what they built while learning remotely during 2020. Categories included seating, tables, case goods, Design for Production and an “anything goes” open category, and the competition judged high school and post-secondary school entries separately. Saying these students produced exemplary items is putting it mildly. Some of these projects are incredibly polished and wildly creative, and you’re going to want to check out every single one, but here are a few highlights.
Best in Show award went to Jinsoo Kim, a student at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, for an elegant table that also won First Place in the post-secondary Case Goods and Tables category of the competition.
Mohammed Al-Yaseen of Lincoln East High School won the People’s Choice Award for his high school project The Nest, an ergonomic chair that unfolds to cup a seated user and then folds completely flat.
A similarly functional flat-pack design netted First Place in the Design for Production – High School Category: the Lumbarest by Josiah Miles, also a student at Lincoln East High School.
How cool is this Modernist piece? The Revolution Mirror by Susan Kokoski of SUNY Buffalo State College received Second Place in the Open Category – Post Secondary.
It’s always amazing when high school woodworkers are able to put the rest of us to shame. Katie Farnsworth of Corner Canyon High School did just that with her Sundown guitar, which won First Place in the Open Category – High Schools, as did Jacob Farnsworth from the same school with Contemporary Table.
The delicate, finely detailed nature of the Abulafia Lectern by Dotan Appelbaum of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship earned its creator First Place in the Open category – Post Secondary.
Think you can’t build a functional chair? You’re more capable than you imagine, if the design is right. Originally designed in 1974 by Italian designer Enzo Mari, the Sedia 1 Chair was made for self-assembly, with a simple design, an easy build process and a highly sturdy result. The design was included in Ilse Crawford’s first Good Design Masterclass for Braun, a video series that aims to inspire “good design for a better future.”
The series explore Braun’s three key design principles: simple, useful and built to last. These principles can be most valuable when it comes to our most basic needs, with items like eating utensils and the curved S-bend waste pipe on toilets, which almost singlehandedly ushered in the era of modern hygiene in the 19th century. The chair, Crawford explains, is especially important because it’s both sustainable and empowering.
“This is a really clear example of open-source furniture,” said Crawford. “These were plans that were published and available for anybody to use. This was a message, not in a bottle, but in a chair. [Mari] was a 1970s activist who wanted to shine a light on the culture of consumerism and inbuilt obsolescence. Aesthetics was really not the point. This was simply an intention to reframe the future.”
Furniture company Artek put the Sedia 1 chair design into production as a kit of parts, including pre-cut pine boards, nails and instructions, and it requires nothing but a hammer to assemble. But you can also build it yourself using your own materials. The original plans are in European lumber sizes, which makes it hard to follow here in the United States, but thankfully, some helpful woodworkers have translated those plans to our dimensions. Check out the plans on Medium.