We first spotted this unusual looking chair at Design Miami this past December. It literally stopped us in our tracks. Designed by furniture maker Ian Spencer and industrial designer Cairn Young of Yard Sale Project, the Roccapina has a smooth front but a stunningly jagged back. It's almost as if the back looks pixelated.
Recently, we got in touch with Spencer to find out more about his company and his designs. We were pleased to find out that Young and Spencer create unique, one-off pieces of furniture all by hand. Spencer was kind enough to answer some of our questions and he also sent us these beautiful images of the three different versions of the Roccapina chair. See below for the quick Q&A.
Q: How are these made?
A: By hand, with each piece glued in individually, then shaped using an angle grinder and sanders afterwards.
Q: Where do you get your wood to make these?
A: West and Co timber merchants and Timberline in South England, and I collect bits and pieces from anywhere and everywhere over the years.
Q: Why the jagged back?
A: The chairs are inspired by ideas of how the scientific understandings of chaos exists within nature, and how we can be inspired by this in our designs for objects that have hitherto been mainly influenced by reference to Classical Greek proportions and Platonic Shapes. The construction technique also uses up small scraps of wood that would otherwise be thrown away, so it lends its self to a more apparently random and chaotic approach to how things are made.
The jagged back and underside give an interesting contrast to the smooth seat, and show how the same pieces of wood can look so different when treated in a different way.
Q: How do people react to your Roccapina chairs when they see it?
A: One woman saw it at a show I did and the look of horror on her face will stay in my mind for its honesty and hilarity for a long time. Otherwise, almost without fail people are amazed by them. They see different things in them, like a New York skyline, or stalactites in a cave, all of which are valid as the pieces are entirely abstract, and so interpretation is up to the viewer.
Q: What does Roccapina mean?
A: The name comes from a beautiful rocky outcrop on the coast of Corsica, that resembles a lion wearing a crown. But the name bears no relation to the work. Our pieces need names that do not force a particular way of seeing onto people. The name needs to be as abstract as the work, but I am a fan of beauty, so could not bring myself to call them anything like Chair Four, or Equivalent Seven.
Q: What's next?
A: We have so far made four chairs in the Roccapina range, each one slightly different from the other. Roccapina Four is currently in Todd Merrill Gallery, New York, and he will be taking it to PAD Paris in April, and Korea in May (if it hasn't sold). I will be starting Roccapina Five in the summer, in preparation for a show at MAD New York and elsewhere in the Fall.