Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eames Inspired Mid-Century Modern Bowls

In the 1940s an architect and an artist married each other and blended their creative talents to produce some of the most iconic design concepts of the the 20th century. Their names were Charles and Ray Eames. Their ideas about design and function were so effective that the entire mid-century modern design concept has become known as Eames Era.

Where is this going I hear you ask and what does it have to do with hand carved wooden bowls? Well it may seem strange but I don't really see my bowls as all that traditional. They're modeled after traditional forms and techniques but these antique designs, driven by function, have been altered to accommodate our modern ideas of style and design. For a long time I've thought about creating a bowl style inspired by mid century modern design norms. I feel that people who are interested in minimalist design shouldn't have to rely on mass produced, molded plastic to satisfy their taste. Where is it written that hand carving cannot produce beautiful natural items that are perfectly at home in the ultra modern kitchen or dining room?
There were a couple of technical problems to over come with this goal however. The first was the actual style of the bowl. I've played around with various shapes before settling on the form you see in these pictures. The arch at the top of the bowl is a shallow arc, giving the bowl a defined rectangle shape yet maintaining a natural flow. Also the curve of the side walls is shallow at about forty five degrees. This gives the crater of the bowl a greater perceived depth than is actually there while maintaining a low profile so as not to leap off the surface on a modern table. This form allows the bowl to sit atop a surface neatly, without overpowering other elements of the room. It relies on the natural beauty of the wood to attract the eye.

The second technical problem to overcome was the thickness of the wood walls of the bowl. I felt that any mid-century modern piece could not have thick heavy sides. These would make the piece look and feel primitive and even rustic. For some time I've been working on getting the walls of my bowls thinner and thinner. I believe this is a display of skill with tools that is immediately apparent to a customer or jury member. In the past few months this skill has made huge strides forward where now I can confidently create a piece with walls thin enough to feel like a modern piece. The walls of these bowls are carved down to as low as 1/4 inch in thickness. This gives the piece a definite modern design feel even though it is a traditionally made, hand carved bowl. These are available through my Etsy page or directly from me. They retail for between $200 to $300 each.