If you have five minutes, and want to watch one of the most enchanting videos ever documenting the birth of a chair, then grab your earphones and click on this preview of the piece that American furniture manufacturer, Bernhardt Design, will unveil in Milan next week. It’s a mesmerizing look at what it takes to craft one of these things, and you’ll never take a fine piece of furniture for granted again. I was on the edge of my seat, just waiting for one of those jig saws to skitter off the line or for two pieces to fail to match up.
The Corvo chair, whose creation is documented in this film, was designed by Parisian designer Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance. This solid American walnut chair is notable for its sculptural back, a detail that took two experienced sample makers four weeks to create.
To ensure that he wouldn’t be limited by the natural constraints of wood, Duchaufour-Lawrance had designed the chair first in the more malleable carbon fiber. “This approach resulted in a chair that was more challenging to execute, but hopefully one that is noticed and appreciated,” he said.
The complexity of the chair’s shapes, angles, and transitions made doing it with modern furniture-making machinery impractical, so the Bernhardt craftsmen went back to old world techniques to get it right. It took 15 different carving tools, hours of shaping, sanding, and sealing. As a result, each chair is slightly different.
Jerry Helling, president of Bernhardt Design, contacted Duchaufour-Lawrance after seeing his “Beside You” table. I’m always looking for designers to enhance what we already do well, but bring a different perspective to the process,” he said. “I could tell Noe would be the perfect person to reinterpret the classic wood chair.”
Duchafour-Lawrance comes to his sculptural leanings naturally; his father was a sculptor, who encouraged him to pursue degrees in both furniture design and metal sculpture. Recently, he’s been tapped to design a variety of high profile restaurants, including Sketch in London and Senderens in Paris.