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SHAKER DESIGN REINTERPRETED

 

Often credited as the first minimalists, the Shakers and their furniture have inspired countless modernist and contemporary designers all over the world. Yet with their presence confined to just a few sites in the United States, people rarely have the opportunity to experience Shaker objects in person and in context. Furnishing Utopia’s mission is to provide designers with direct exposure to original Shaker artifacts and demonstrate how the group’s ideas still prove influential.

In collaboration with the Hancock Shaker Village and the Mt. Lebanon Shaker Museum, a week-long workshop was conducted at two preserved Shaker sites, giving a group of 12 international designers access to an extensive archive of objects and engaging them in a dialog with the museum’s curators. Following the workshop, the designers were invited to produce designs that translate the ingenuity and aesthetics of Shaker objects into modern forms relevant to contemporary life.

 

 

 

The Furnishing Utopia collection currently exhibited in context at the Brick Dwelling at Hancock Shaker Village.

 

To visit the exhibit, please visit:

Hancock Shaker Village (hancockshakervillage.org)

ADDRESS: 1843 West Housatonic St. Pittsfield MA, 01201

FURNISHING UTOPIA ON VIEW

HANCOCK SHAKER VILLAGE 

SEPT 1st - NOV 6th

 

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Photo Credit _ Charlie Schuck, Natasha Felker

Baskets by Studio Gorm

Inspired by the construction of the Shaker bentwood oval boxes and the forms of woven split black ash harvest baskets. Utilizing a modern flexible bamboo plywood and solid plywood base allows for bentwood forms that are not possible with traditional methods. They are extremely light and durable, suitable for many uses.

Trestle table by Studio Gorm

Based on the Shaker quote “do your work as if you had a thousand years to live and if you were to die tomorrow”. This table is built to last. Borrowing elements from several Shaker Trestle tables, including a high stretcher and the use of metal hardware for easy disassembly. This table is made from old growth Douglas Fir and generously supports activities from family meals, projects to office work. One half of the top slides to accommodate cords and plugs. Oversized metal hardware and sliding dovetail joints make it extremely durable and allow the table to be completely dismantled for ease of shipping. 

Bench by Studio Gorm

Based on Shaker benches with removable backs. This updated version uses oversized hardware to connect the backrest. The slab built construction has a shallow V shaped seat to give added comfort Disassembles completely and packs flat. 

 

Rocking chair by Studio Gorm

Inspired by the Shaker #4 rocking chair, which has a strikingly contemporary proportion, it is particularly wide, with a low profile making it comfortable and inviting. Our version is made in solid maple with geometrically minimal forms, it has a spindle back atypical of Shaker Rockers.

 

 

Work Station by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio

 

Inspired by the Shaker desks and their thoughtfulness for compartmentalization, L&G Studio decided to create a modern day working station that's both versatile and well-considered for different scenarios. The piece has a front which front folds down and opens up a working surface, while the inside has integrated accessories for organization. When one is finished with work, one can simply close the cover and visually stow away the work. The top section doubles as a standing work surface. 


Woven Stool by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio

Inspired by the playful mutli-color and patterns on shaker chairs and stools, L&G Studio decided to extend the possible woven surfaces and colors which can be applied in one piece. 

Handy Rakes by Christopher Specce

 

The Shakers equated order, cleanliness, and neatness with the divine, and the chores required to achieve those ideals had the capacity for worship. Communal life and the specialization of labor enabled the Shakers to design and produce objects that were uncommon in their specificity of purpose and quality of manufacture. I’m drawn to the devotional craft the Shakers invested in the things they made and their ritualization of the tasks of daily life. I’ve tried to create a similar, albeit somewhat absurd elevation of the mundane, juxtaposing those spiritual aspirations with the kind of souvenir interpretation that exists in a gift-shop’s-view of this rich and idiosyncratic culture. Modeled on archetypical plastic garden rakes, windshield ice-scrapers, folding step ladders, and Procter & Gamble's Swiffer, the simple tools I’ve created are intended to provide familiar utility while allowing for both more mindful and ridiculous use. 

Handy Sweeper by Christopher Specce 

 

Handy Scraper by Christopher Specce 

Handy Folding Ladder by Christopher Specce

Brethren Bench by Gabriel Tan

Inspired by the simplicity and beauty of shaker benches, the exposed joinery gives the bench its strength and character.

Brethren Doorstops by Gabriel Tan

The soft, sculptural forms of shaker knobs and handles are the inspiration. Blocks of laminated solid wood are lathed into doorstops, each with a personality of its own. Could also be used as paper weights or bookends.

Petal Baskets by Gabriel Tan

The shakers are well known for their bent wood boxes which were used to store every items. As a response to today's shrinking home sizes and more nomadic lifestyles, I wanted to create versatile storage objects that could be packed extremely flat. Using leather, I experimented with folded shapes and ways of assembly. I arrived at a six-petal pattern which could be folded into a round basket.Comes in a set of three in Red, Blue and Tan colored Napa leather.

Stove Chair & Domino Coat Rack by Gabriel Tan

The shakers designed chairs in a way that was relevant to their way of life. Not only are our homes getting smaller today, restaurants, bars and cafes are too. "What is the smallest functional chair, that could still be comfortable to sit on?" was my question. I designed a three legged chair with a short backrest and a seat shape inspired by the shaker stove, that can be hung on a wall mounted peg rail.

Reinterpreting the shaker peg rail, this version takes inspiration from the domino joints that are commonly used in woodworking today. The proportion of the domino gives it its strength. A ledge enables storage of mail and also acts as as a spacer between the wall - which is useful when hanging large coats.

Handle Stool by Gabriel Tan

The stool is probably the most nomadic piece of furniture in the home - on one day it could be used in the kitchen, on another at the dining table for a house guest, and sometimes near the front door for us to put on our shoes in comfort. I saw pieces of leather draped over a slim, four legged stool in one of the shaker workshops and it led to the idea of a suspended leather strap that can be activated as a comfortable sling handle.

Doverail-mirror & Doverail-shelf by Hallgeir Homstvedt

The Doverail derives from the Shakers form-language and other wall hung objects seen at the shaker village. The rail is simply hung on the wall with one screw and is intended for the modern home where the shaker peg-rail is no longer common. The dove-tail shaped rail allows for vertical adjustment of the mirror or shelves through the turn of a brass knob, giving the product a flexible nature. Simple geometric shapes in combination with natural materials has where used to give the product a light yet strong character.

 

Shaker Toolbox by Hallgeir Homstvedt

The Shakers have many innovative and well known solutions for storage in the home and for their own production facilities. This toolbox is inspired by Shaker chest of drawers that often had oversized knobs for ergonomic and esthetic reasons. Designed for the modern day architect or designer, the toolbox functions as a desktop organizer with a large knob- handle that makes it conveniently portable. The toolbox is made from solid beech, chosen for it's density and even grain structure.

Candle Holders by Jonah Takagi

Milled from a solid block of aluminum, they will accommodate several of the most common candle sizes allowing for a variety of compositions.

Wooden Boxes by Jonah Takagi

 

Norm Shaker Trays by Norm Architects

(Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Kasper Rønn Frederik & Frederik Werner)

 

"The concept exists of 3 trays in different sizes that you, in the well known shaker style, can hang on the wall. The idea is to combine the functionality of the product and use it in a more graphical and illustrative way. The inspiration is fund in the shaker rails, the shaker boxes and is combined with the minimalism you find in both the Shaker- and Scandinavian style with a focus on aesthetics and functionality."

 

Brother Shelf by Studio Tolvanen

 

Brother Shelf was inspired by utilitarian shelving in the Brethren Workshop at Shaker Village. It uses nothing more than the essential geometry needed to stand upright, but nevertheless has a playful appearance. The array of triangular crossbars in the Brother Shelf are a simple solution that keep it from leaning to the side and also eliminate the need for messy cross brace hardware. Consequently, the shelf can be used either one-sided (against the wall) or two-sided (as a room divider). 

Sister table by Studio Tolvanen

Sister Table is an unassuming coffee table that takes cues from a stone sink in the Sister's Dairy at Shaker Village. The table has friendly rounded corners, a handy carrying handle, and a lip around the edge that holds everything neatly in place. 

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Daybed by Darin Montgomery

A nod to the Shaker’s rolling beds, the Daybed has wheels on the back legs to facilitate moving for cleaning. The side table refers to the platform of Shaker wood stoves. 

Dustpan by Darin Montgomery

A reference to the Shaker’s obsession with cleanliness and their enthusiasm for advancements in materials and technology, the Dustpan combines the tactility of a wood handle and the durability of plastic. 

Chandelier, Sconce & Candlestick  by Tom Bonamici

 

 

Inspired by the adjustable candle holders traditionally used over tables and in hallways, made with exposed joinery and spliced cord. It’s easily raised and lowered using a cleat on the wall.

The Shaker version hung on peg rail; this take can be put on any wall. It uses a single dovetail to firmly lock the pieces together.

A simple tabletop candle holder, echoing the clean forms of Shaker interiors. Cork feet make for a gentle landing.

Brush Study by Zoë Mowat

The Shakers excelled at their craft in the production of tools, best exemplified in their brushes and brooms, of which they made many for very different purposes. The brush study series examines and explores the forms, materials and various functions of specific Shaker brushes, providing a contemporary interpretation of the original works.

Each brush handle is colour-coded in shades from the traditional Shaker palette in order to define and identify its particular function and intended location. This is a method very much in line with the Shakers’ approach to objects, which ensured that everything was always in its place.

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