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Weekly Highlight: Re-Caning a Classic
Originally designed in 1956, when this vintage Hans Wegner Circle Chair first came into our workshop this past April, it was looking every day of its age. In fact, at some point in its storied life, this CH20 broke on through to the other side. So we called upon our in-house expert, Emily Scheltgen, to weave her magic. Literally.
"The biggest challenge with this piece, and with re-caning these older pieces in general, would be the materials. Sourcing them is somewhat tricky: furniture caning is such a niche discipline; it can be difficult to find the specific materials you're looking for. And for this particular Wegner chair, there were thick, curved cuttings of rattan along the bottom edges to cover the nails. Nobody sells that anymore!"
"So we brainstormed a little about different solutions, and ended up making a very thin piece of ash in the shop to replace it. Working with the caning itself can be a little complicated too. It's a natural product and therefore has some defects and variances, it breaks easily if you don't process it correctly, and it's really difficult to color-match if you don't buy enough at once.
The chair itself was in great shape, but the seat had totally broken through the frame, it was barely hanging on in the back corner, and most of the wraps had come loose. Luckily, I was able to find some reference photos online of other restored pieces, and some originals, and through taking it apart, and comparing to the photos I was able to come up with the pattern and match it almost exactly."
This same technique, craft and expertise is on show in Emily’s re-caning of the matching Wegner stool.
Sky Reaching, Textile Space: Our Collab with Bora Architects
Recently, we we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with BORA architects on a large-scale architectural installation made of a textile shell and a metal skeleton. A multi-disciplinary project imagined for a Portland Institute of Contemporary Art event, it explores the connection between fashion and shelter.
Bora's Fabric and the Threshold of Shelter Installation, 2018
How do we approach the connection between architecture and fashion? How I conceptualize is by way of historical reflections: the first exhibit coming to mind being the ethereal work of fashion designer Issey Miyake. Miyake designed an environmental, floating UFO dress, made possible by his invention of a technology that heat pleats clothing. Heat pleating imprints onto textile a “memory” of form that allows for strong structural geometry and easy storability.
Issey Miyake Flying Saucer Dress, 1994
The concept of Issey Miyake's clothing has been reified by architects such as Kengo Kuma. Kengo Kuma designed pleated sky scraper adornments, offsetting the hardness of buildings with textural softness. Both platforms, Issey Miyake's clothing and Kuma's buildings, represent the beauty of moveable and breathable form and space, allowing light and fresh air in through their geometric crevices.
Kengo Kuma Shanghai Tower Adornment, 2015
Re-situating ourselves in beloved Portland, BORA architects takes a slightly different approach than Miyake and Kuma. BORA has a relative idea of “movability” when they speak about their own textile/architectural concept. BORA's movability explores our cultural and physical opposition to the natural world. This negative relationship is human isolation within closed spaces and excessive shielding from our swaths of blue sky. BORA imagines a different world through a lens of how possible airy textile, and thus building, can really be.
BORA ambitiously subverts the hard-exterior building in their own way. Their structure, in the end, takes a natural form with multiple entrances and openings, welcoming an ecosystem of people and environmental factors, becoming a community space.
The Good Mod was so lucky to take part in BORA's project by assisting in the fabrication and assembling of the structure. Special thank you to Marziah Rajabzadeh at BORA!
- Isadora Bratton-Benfield
Reflections on the Plastic Chair and a Rich History
The ubiquitous plastic chair is recognized globally. Do we have a collective memory of them? Groups in overgrown gardens, indoor event spaces, humid places or around a dinner table- most have deep associations with them. They sink into flowers overtime or are taken from spaces as fleetingly as they arrived.
After we brought a group of them into the shop recently, we were prompted to investigate their origins.
Photo Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum
Mid-century: new and evolving plastic technologies allowed for chairs to be sculpted in one mechanical motion. So, the plastic chair really represented the idea of iteration- one million movements would equal one million chairs. A French engineer, Henry Massonnet, was the first to use this technology to design this "million" product, naming his creation the Fauteuil 300.
Henry Massonnet Chairs at The Good Mod
The Fauteuil 300, literally, means a wooden and upholstered open armed chair. Henry Massonnet's version, however, was an innovative plastic counterpart that we have come to know so well today.
The design of plastic chairs is highly functional. They are storable, moveable, weather retardant, and affordable. They are as ephemeral as a chair frame might be imagined.
Magis Cricket Chair at The Good Mod
We are as used to seeing plastic as we are a candy wrapper, both representing familiar notes of mass consumer production. This streamlined and affordable product, thus, becomes egalitarian. As far as affordable solutions go, the plastic chair now comes in a variety of designs and levels of accessibility. Take a moment to consider the high/low attitudes of the plastic chair, floating in its own self-curated dimension of function and idea, politicized as it is physically present.
- Isadora Bratton-Benfield
Aleph Geddis: The Heart of Hand Carving
"...A great piece of wood is key. I love irregularities in the wood, especially in my geometric pieces. A crack contrasts nicely against the organized structure of geometry." -Aleph Geddis on 3 important facets of wood carving
In his carving shed in the Orcas Island, Aleph Geddis sculpts a fox head mask, a commissioned piece and one of a kind.
Being introduced to sculpting at a young age under the hand of his step-father Aleph took to process quickly and fell in love with form. He studied at the Waldorf School, and began carving in beeswax. And also had the opportunity to work with Duane Pasco, a prominent figure in the PNW world of wood sculpting. Carving has been a part of his life for over 20 years.
Aleph has revealed in an interview that some of the knives he uses he has made himself, specifically varying the specs and styles to bring an even deeper uniqueness to his work.
Aleph came into The Good Mod with intention to see some of the sculpted Leroy Setziol panels. It was then that he and I began talking about the passion he has for making art and traveling the globe. Aleph travels between his studio in the Orcas Islands, WA and Bali, carving and creating all the while.
In an interview with Filston, Aleph describes an intimate moment in his art: "For me, carving is all about the texture and the feeling of the chip coming off. There's nothing like the feeling of a sharp knife slicing through buttery wood."
The Good Mod is host to one large totem, one medium sized carving, and a few various smaller sculptures carved by Aleph. Visit our showroom at 1313 W Burnside to see these fascinating and intricately textured hand-carvings.
1. Image borrowed from: https://www.filson.com/filson-life/trade-stories-aleph-geddis/ 9/29/17
- Amanda Leaman