Scaling up

My design influences come from many different places; nature and history are the obvious influences, however sometimes my work in one field directly influences my work in another. That is what happened here with the Swell side and coffee tables. 

For those not familiar with the Bonsai world a little background is necessary. Bonsai trees are not a specific species of tree; any tree can be a bonsai. Many times these trees are collected from extremely harsh environments where nature has naturally reduced their size. Through a process of trimming and root confinement the tree is shaped to evoke the spirit of its full-sized cousins. 

Bonsai trees live outdoors, just as a full sized tree would. Once in a while they are brought inside and placed on a small specially designed table for a few days of display. I craft these display stands. It is not a profession I necessarily planned for, more something I happily fell into by being at the right place at the right time. 

A little under a year ago I had a client commission a stand for an interesting Rocky Mountain juniper. The tree had a very lively character; it almost seemed to dance in the pot. To make a stand with a similar character seemed repetitive. Instead I designed a geometric stand with a curved interior negative space fighting to escape its rigid confines. This energy echoed the tree, but in a different way giving the composition variety and interest. 

 The bonsai tree and stand that inspired the swell coffee table below.

The bonsai tree and stand that inspired the swell coffee table below.

As soon as I wrapped up the stand I knew the design had further potential.  It has taken a while to set aside the time to develop this diminutive stand into full sized furniture, but the results have been worth it. The Swell coffee and side tables feature the same dynamic energy of the bonsai stand, derived from the contrast of the curved negative space and the rigid geometric perimeter. Each corner features Asian inspired joinery that produces a clean sophisticated look with no visible end grain. The evolution has been fun, I look forward to more of these crossovers in the future. 

 Swell side tables in Walnut

Swell side tables in Walnut

 Matching Swell coffee table 

Matching Swell coffee table 

 Close up of the joinery and foot detail. Known as a three way miter it is inspired by traditional Japanese joinery. The foot detail gives the entire piece a subtle lift. 

Close up of the joinery and foot detail. Known as a three way miter it is inspired by traditional Japanese joinery. The foot detail gives the entire piece a subtle lift.