Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be

Подпись: ® The Stradivarius Chair is created by using a five-axis router to cut a seat shape into layers of plywood, which harkens back to the rings inside a tree trunk. Credit: Baptiste Heller but I knew some interference would be the result of cutting into plywood with a machine and forming it. I didn’t realize quite how complex it would be. It was quite a surprise.”

Ever since he carved a wooden fish as a nine-year-old boy, wood has always fascinated Sindall. “I’ll never forget it. I was doing it for a school project and I could see the fish, I could feel it.” When he became a furniture designer some years later, he rekindled his love affair with the material. “As a furniture designer, wood is one of the first materials you come across, and you discover that it’s not inert, it has a life, and age, and history behind it.” The inter­nal rings that carry the personal life history of a tree are particu­larly inspiring to him. But, he didn’t want to cut down a tree just to be able to cut open the trunk. So, for the Stradivarius, he lay­ered and then cut into high-quality plywood to mimic the look of the original tree.

He began by drawing on the computer to render the stratum and the shape of the seat, both of which were developed more by feel more than by measurement. “I think when you make pieces of furniture,” says Sindall, “You understand the relationship be­tween the curve and the human body. With other pieces that I have sculpted by hand, you’re not looking at the curve in a stylis­tic sense; you’re imagining a hand grasping an object or your back resting against the backrest—you’re seeing the relationship of the body and the form.” As sensual as this approach may be, Sindall doesn’t only rely on, but actually relishes working on a computer to make his ideas real. “I love having the opportunity to experiment with materials and machines and the use of com­puter, which I believe is not just a cold, inanimate object. It can be harnessed in such a way that you can arrive at very animated sort of vibration, in a way. I’ve got this tool, I’ve got this program, it seems very inert and cold, but what can I do to make it live?” he continues. “We came full circle because the result is quite a natural looking object. It looks like it was cut out of a tree trunk, but it’s not. It’s not natural because the wood has gone through its whole product lifecycles and come back to a trunk of wood.”

The Stradivarius was a one-off creation made for an exhibition. Sindall used both technology and the skills of a group of high – end cabinetmakers to make the seat. “To achieve it, I have to work with a computer program to create a 3D object in virtual space. This information is then transferred to a machine, a five – axis router that receives the computer-generated information, and transfers it into coordinates,” he explains. “The block is assem­bled of different layers of very good quality plywood which was assembled in different layers. And then the machine’s got a drill bit that takes the material out. It’s a really beautiful thing to watch. It’s extremely precise, down to ^ of a millimeter

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be

Подпись: ©Подпись:Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would beThe stories told by the rings of a tree and the sensual beauty of objects sculpted from wood were the initial inspiration for the Stradivarius Chair. Credit: Igor Ternet

A wire frame drawing “shows the transition between the tree cross section and the object. A wood block becomes an object just with the cut,” according to Sindall. Credit: Matt Sindall

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be© The numeric milling process uses a computer drawing to direct a router to cut in any of five different axes. Used in woodworking applications like cabinetmaking, Sindall used the technology to create a piece of furni­ture that is more sculpture than chair.

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be
Credit: Matt Sindall

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be© A computer-generated image shows further details of the chair, including the exterior serration in the layers of plywood and the metal feet picked up at an IKEA store. Credit: Matt Sindall

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be

78 DESIGN SECRETS: FURNITURE

 

Stradivarius Chair, Matt Sindall “I knew the ply­wood had this energy in it, in these layers,” says Matt Sindall. “I didn’t really knOW what the result would be

0 The router leaves a subtle layer of grooves in the sur­face of the wood. The craftsmen were about to sand the interior smooth when Sindall happened to stop by, and in the nick of time, asked them to leave this extra, textural detail. Credit: Baptiste Heller

 

It is this convergence of the natural with the technical in order to mimic the natural that Sindall finds so interesting. “My main pre­occupation when I design a piece of furniture is not really con­cerned about comfort or style in the sense that it’s about a formal object,” he says. “Over and above the fact that it’s a functional object, I’m trying to bring out other elements, other stories. I don’t really want to ram these down people’s throats, it’s very much up to the observer, the person who sees or uses the object to make up his own mind. You give people signs, or messages hidden in the surface and the treatment of the surface that brings out their own impressions, their own themes about what an ob­ject is or what a surface is.”

The feet, however, have a much more prosaic story to tell. He picked them up from an IKEA furniture store. Sindall saw the feet on a piece of kitchen furniture and wandered around the store all morning before finding them as an individual item for purchase. “They’re stainless steel feet with a nice proportion,” he says. “It’s slightly antidesign. I saw them, and I liked them. There’s no point in redrawing something that you can find. I like the diameter of the stainless steel tube. For the size of the chair, this very solid mass of wood on these very fine legs creates this sort of finesse.”

For all his interest in surfaces, and all the surface interest in the Stradivarius, Sindall contends that he’s not “100 percent happy with it. I’m not happy with the outside because I think it’s de­tracting from what’s happening in the surface. In a way,” he says, “it’s too designed. It’s confusing the message. I think it would have been interesting if I’d wrapped it in a brightly colored lami­nate so the levels of plywood were not seen on the outside. It would create mystery.” But Sindall accepts that this dissatisfac­tion is inevitable. “Designers suffer from being designers in a sense,” he says. And the piece, like any project, has other lessons to teach him. “When I started, it was all about the outer surface, the skin,” he says. “But this has woken up something in me, got­ten me thinking about what’s going on inside, in the core of the object. This is what it’s given me. There’s a whole world to ex­plore in the core of a piece of furniture.”

And sometimes, the world conjured by a particular furniture ob­ject has it’s own, inherent and straightforward sweetness. Says Sindall, “I always come back to a Mille Feuille pastry. I love that pastry. When I see one, I have to buy one. This piece keeps com­ing back to that. When I look at it, I can almost taste the pastry.”