From the Studio: Bough Collection — New Work

Exploring the confluence of tradition and modernity.

As with all Kalon collections, Bough was designed for the life we were living — and to welcome certain experiences and feelings. Thinking back to 2016, when the Bough Collection was first taking shape, we were living in the Berkshires amidst a community that loved gathering for meals together. With less scheduling conflicts to contend with than city life may have presented, the spirit of this place was eminently communal and welcoming. It inspired us to think about how we would approach dining. We found ourselves drawn to stools and benches, seating that invites closeness, letting you fit more people around a table.

Nearby, the Hancock Shaker Village, a living history museum in the Berkshires just 20 minutes from us, offered a well of additional inspiration. The Shakers’ recognition that pure functionality is beautiful had always resonated. Their furniture exudes a quiet beauty and purity of form. This was design made to be harmonious and everlasting; Craft pursued to honor the hands that create; Ingenuity in service of grace. They endeavored to live in kinship with nature, and that sensibility is reflected in the objects and spaces they created. In Shaker Design, the author reflects upon the transformation of common objects into works of uncommon grace: “What really distinguishes Shaker design is something that transcends utility, simplicity, and perfection—a subtle beauty that relies almost wholly on proportion.”

We began to sketch out designs. We explored other furniture traditions known for simplicity and structural integrity. Japan’s Sashimono tradition, a woodworking technique wherein intricate joinery and little to no metal fasteners produce elegantly simple furniture, informed the careful, 2-year-long development of complex, concealed joints used throughout the collection. Campaign furniture — furniture specifically made to break down or fold for ease of travel — married stability and mobility in novel ways.

Meanwhile, we had become interested in traditional Japanese metalworking and ironware techniques, particularly tetsubin cast iron kettles and the labor-intensive wara-ibushi patina technique, where oil, fire, and smoke alchemize to create a rich black. The production process for making traditional Japanese cast iron work consists of some 60 steps, all done by hand. Around this time, we had acquired a teapot that was made using the traditional techniques handed down by generations of artisans. Its striking facade would come to inspire the blackened steel detailing in the Bough table designs.

In Bough, we sought to explore the place where traditional and modern, delicacy and resilience, substance and lightness meet. As always, intense materiality and purity of form became driving forces. To bring these pieces to life, we partnered with Mennonite craftsmen and artisans in Pennsylvania. These small shops, family owned and operated, also utilize advanced manufacturing technology. A celebration of longstanding, but increasingly rare furniture craft industries, the pieces within the Bough Collection require a level of precision not commonly found in modern woodworking.

Bough Collection — New Work welcomes a debut of new designs, including a Round Table and Bar Stools, as well as additional species of domestic hardwoods. The Bough Collection was first released in May 2018 during New York Design Week.

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