Sometimes, nature speaks for itself – and slicing off pieces in the construction process can silence some of the most beautiful things it has to say. Lex Pott is a veteran design experimentalist who explores this world of left-behind elements through uncanny sets of unique and unfinished furniture that employ everything from tree stump to forest canopy and a great deal in between.
“The wood processing industry works according to a fixed pattern: a tree is stripped of its branches and divided into geometric forms.” Normally, this process is lost in the final product -and these temporary geometries with it – as are the unique material qualities of the cottonwood, maple, boxelder or other barks.
However, Lex interrupts this sequence. In some cases, he leaves bark attached to branches, and in turn leaves branches attached to tree trunks. In others, he takes the reconstituted wooden logs and divides them directly into furniture pieces that maintain the same spatial relationships to one another as the original wood did within a tree. This is not as easy as it sounds – nor is the craft of recreating the structural connections needed to join each piece to the next.
The result in one instance is unique carved junctures between a leg and a table surface or the intersections of feet, stalk and arms within a coat hanger, the bark still showing on parts of each branch. In another, the finished furniture object is a set of shelves that form a raw-shaped bookcase but still look like the first slices of the tree (and tapering in depth from top to bottoms shelves, just like the log).
Perhaps the most interesting part of this evolving collection is the combination of repeatable processes and unique results. In each case, he works with the shape and texture of the particular tree, but invariably no two pieces are alike. While all wood furniture can boast something similar when it comes to the tone, texture and grain of wood used, there are few pieces that bridge the gap between extremely stylized, refined and finished pieces on the one hand and the raw, natural and unfinished feel of driftwood lumber on the other.