Editor’s Miscellany: Turn, Turn, Turn

January 3, 2013

By Kyle Hoepner

A Christmas visit from a woodworking friend of my father’s reminded me how much fun can be had with a lathe and a hunk of tree. There’s something about spool or bobbin chairs, baluster lamps, barley twist consoles and their various spun-and-shaved brethren that will get me every time.

Barley twist table. Photo from therusticmodernist.com

An innate dollop of perversity is what makes them most delightful–a little bit of that single-mindedness “outsider†craftsmen can sometimes exhibit, by virtue of their voracious enthusiasm and laser focus on a single medium or type of work. (When it comes to wood turning, the look and feel can be quite similar, for example, to the tramp art mentioned on this blog back in June 2012.)

French walnut bobbin chair with matching ottoman, circa 1875, from Jerry Pair Antiques in South Florida. Photo from jerrypair.com

Victorian child’s corner chair, circa 1880: parcel-gilt, rush-seated, bobbin-turned and all-around fabulous. Photo from skinnerinc.com

One of my favorite extreme examples is the Harvard President’s Chair, a bit of Jacobean fancy that’s bound to evoke a wry grin from even the most aesthetically challenged beholder. Photo courtesy of Harvard Magazine

Professional designers often pick up on this spirit, and push aspects of their designs in the direction of exaggeration and whimsy.

Martha Stewart’s Kendall Bobbin Chair, from the furniture collection she did with Bernhardt. Photo from traditionalhome.com

Arteriors Home Belize authentic shell baluster lamp. Photo from interiordesign.net

BeeLine Home Black Beauty center table. Photo from bunnywilliams.com

How about this rope-wrapped console from Noir Furniture? Photo from noirfurniturela.com

Dunes and Duchess hurricane candelabra. Photo from dunesandduchess.com

Then again, some designers take an opposite tack, seeking to regularize or “architecturalize†the look.

Hollywood at Home bobbin chair with rush seat and back. Photo from hollywoodathome.com

Fredrik Kjellgren and Joakim Kaminsky’s Pirate series of furniture. Photo from kjellgrenkaminsky.se

Baltus Collection’s Rocio lounge chair. Photo from areainteriors.com

Either way, the results tend to catch the eye and can add a fillip of cheer to your domestic life.

For more fun furniture, check out these links.

Soft Focus: Form marries function with beautiful results in the furniture designed by bius, a contemporary design studio.

Transformers: Not the movie series, but a new wave of furniture that undergoes a change in appearance and even function.

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