The Magic Formula: Craft
When I talked about increased sophistication in High Point offerings, I meant not just a different attitude in presentation - the suite monopoly seems finally broken in favor of a more natural assembly of individual but related pieces that work well together and even talk to each other through multi functions.
I also want to convey the complexity of the many different materials used within a given collection, the artisan finishes accomplished with both old and new techniques and the extraordinary attention to detail which can often be accomplished only through hand processes.
All of these elements lend a special quality and individuality to wood and upholstery pieces alike, which has far removed them from the cookie cutter factory look of old. There are sandblasted and wire brushed finishes that defy uniformity, there are complex inlays of stone, fabric and leather wrappings or inserts of lacquer and shagreen, there are handforged table bases, black nickel accents, and a variety of stone tops of onyx, faux malachite, tortoise, mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell. These are all precious or semi precious materials that would have been hard to find in High Point in previous markets. Also included are petrified wood pieces left unfinished around the edges, the way nature created them.(Bernhardt, Hickory Chair, Century are all in the forefront in using such techniques and materials lending authenticity and exclusivity to new introductions.
Such attention to detail is taken to the max in one of the most beautiful collections on view here: Thomas Pheasant's latest collection for Baker. Highly polished Mahogany in a "luxe" finish is the primary wood used but almost always presented with an architectural motif as the base and select gold accents which rest like jewelry on each piece of furniture. The most spectacular, the "Radiant" Table, is presented with a fully gold top in a bamboo like texture.
That said, the collection carries hints of the Japanese aesthetic but filtered through the designer's own and unique sensibility in a totally modern way. Since there are more than 50 pieces in this collection, you will hear more from me in a future blog when I can devote more space to detailing this extraordinary design and quality statement. Only so much going back to craft: delicate brass wrapping appears on several pieces that are handcrafted in Italy as are a small group of tables constructed entirely of brass tubings but held together without welding, i.e. all of the parts have to fit perfectly when assembled.
The use of craft and skilled artisanship not only sets style leaders apart, it also serves an increasingly important purpose: to prevent fast copies as much as possible. In an age when all new design can be viewed almost instantaneously and re-pinned on the internet, high-end producers and talented designers who invest the gift of their talent and experience into their products, feel a growing need to protect their intellectual property. The use of unusual materials, hand assisted finishes, and hand crafted details are one way for them to keep others from accomplishing fast and cheap knock-offs.