Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unwinding Influences

Mecedora Rocker by 2007 SCAD furniture design graduate Daniella Peña

Peña used a stainless-steel frame (bent by hand with the help of a conduit bender) and cotton rope, hand woven in an ad hoc pattern and sewn in hidden places to secure a person of up to 300lbs. It sits only about 14 inches off the ground, so rather a low seat, but its widely-placed rockers ensure stability.

Peña has clearly taken cues from bentwood furniture designs of the late-19th century, as well as Mies van der Rohe's tubular- steel cantilevered chairs of the 1920s, but perhaps the most relevant relationship is its direct connection with Van Keppel-Green's famous enameled steel-and-cotton yacht cord design (below) that has become one of the great icons of Southern California mid-century design. In an era of Design Within Reach and the (sometimes OK) regurgitation of classic design, its absolutely refreshing to see a young designer interpret the old in an astonishingly new and original way. My only complaint is the redundant name - mecedora is Spanish for rocking chair.

Van Keppel Green, Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1946 (MoMA)

Peña's rocking chairs are handmade and produced on an as-ordered basis, either by contacting SCAD (www.shopscadonline.com) or the artist directly (www.elemento.etsy.com). They sell for about $1700.

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