Fun with steel

February 6, 2016

One of the most satisfying design challenges that we have been set over the last few years was the design of a small bench for longstanding clients (who have become friends over the 13 years that we have been involved with this garden). The reason that this simple, little bench was such a fun commission is that its primary purpose is to serve as a perch for the clients’ grandchildren, although it also operates as a convenient means of access for a garden at the top of a retaining wall near the kitchen.

Whenever we design with metal, it is important to communicate with engineers throughout the process, for refinement of both practical and aesthetic matters. In this case, one distinctive feature of the bench was added as the result of an idea offered by Brett Hollander (whose firm fabricated the frame), wherein the bars on the side of the bench lean inwards to provide additional strength and a sense of movement.

Two years prior to the design of the bench, we were asked to formulate a solution for an unusually specific purpose – to provide support for the stems of a Clematis armandii that crosses over the entry boardwalk into the house. Our answer was not to create an arch, which would have established an overly bulky presence in this area. Instead, we designed a pair of rings that flank the boardwalk (as pictured below, right), which hold the stems of the climber up (like abstract claws), thereby leaving the climber to establish a natural arch itself.