Today we begin a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Nine. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come.
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In 2019, U.K.-based studio craftsman and author Abdollah Nafisi joined 5 other artisans in exploring the ideologies and innovations of the Arts & Crafts Movement for a BBC television series. For Issue Nine, Nafisi recounts his experience of recreating William Morris’ iconic Sussex chair for the series, utilizing only hand tools.
Refined by Morris in the 1860s and put into production in 1870, the Sussex chair became a well-known and widely popular expression of the Arts & Crafts Movement – an irony, since the fabrication of the chair was accomplished entirely within factory settings. But Nafisi’s aim for the project was to channel the founding principles of the Movement, making the Sussex chair without the use of modern machines. Having a limited amount of time to finish the chair, coupled with the steep learning curve of working green wood from a huge log, made this a formidable project. “This task was quite the reverse of a normal creative process,” Nafisi writes, “as we had to work backwards from a finished object and hack our way to a working design strategy.”
Since the series originally aired, Nafisi has received several commissions for similar chairs through his studio. Although his shop is equipped with modern machines, he finds that many chairmaking tasks are best accomplished with simple, traditional methods. “There really is nothing that compares to the catharsis of splitting and shaving down logs into discernable chair parts.”
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