Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life & Work with Commonwealth


New York Magazine visits the home and studio of husband-and-wife design team Commonwealth.

Cork, bamboo, and Corian are put to plenty of commonplace uses in today’s homes, but in the hands of—or rather, run through the CNC machine of—furniture designers Zoë Coombes and David Boira of Commonwealth, they become the stuff of far stranger household objects. At the back of an industrial building in Williamsburg, the couple has made anemone-like porcelain-vase models, translucent webbed Corian desktops, cork-and-plaster lamp prototypes, and a furniture series constructed of Richlite, a sustainably harvested paper countertop material. CNC machines allow for blobby, biomorphic digital designs to be translated directly into three dimensions. Coombes and Boira insert a block of material into the mill and send it a digital file detailing a form. The solid passes through the mill and is carved away; what remains is the object designed on the computer, to be refined by hand. The result: furniture like Commonwealth’s Lard series, a table, bureau, and stool that are minimalist in color and shape but that break out in cellulite-like blips and blurps. The black stools are made of Richlite, “which has this eco-angle but we made something from it that has this Star Wars look,” says Coombes. “It’s an eco-product without trying to look like patchouli,” adds Boira...


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