At Bklyn Designs: Upholstery and Wood Together at Last!

If you wish to pay homage to a local boy who made it big, have a look at the work of Queens’ native Jonah Zuckerman of City Joinery this weekend at BKLYN DESIGNS (May 9-11). Zuckerman aspires to re-claim the notion of “craft,” which, he says, has (sadly) devolved to connote “poor design and weak thinking… to many big city art collectors, architects, and design aficionados a ‘craftsperson’ is a rural dolt who should never be trusted with decisions beyond the purely technical.”

Dining Banquette & Table. Designed by City Joinery.

The divide between the celebrity designer and the processes of production is, for Zuckerman, an example of the kind of disconnect between an object and its history that’s at the core of the worst kind of American consumerism: “[a] rabidly consuming society that is mostly incapable of recognizing or valuing when something is exceptionally well made with exceptional materials.” Zuckerman’s doing his best to put this situation to rights. City Joinery makes furniture “one piece at a time,” which suggests that their work is just a notch below exclusively custom (though they also create new designs “specific to a customer’s needs”).

At Bklyn Designs: Upholstery and Wood Together at Last!

Trim Armchair. Designed by City Joinery.

City Joinery’s furnishings have a contemporary aesthetic. Most of the pieces are compact and geometrical; they’re light and airy in the sense that they make ample use of negative space. Their tables, in particular, invite a dance of the eye between the elegant grain seamlessly joined (they work in several varieties of wood, including Black Walnut, Cherry, Flame Birch, and Tiger Maple) and the light and shadow enticed upon the surface. Yet (surprise!), City Joinery does much more than wood. Much of their pioneering work involves the integration of wood with materials that some might consider contrary-aluminum, bronze, steel, glass, and upholstery. The Trim Armchair, for instance, creates a dialogue between foam, birch, and black walnut that coheres into an admirably compact yet surprisingly inviting chair with contemporary details and a classic appeal; the Dining Banquette and Table is an ingenious space-saving dining unit that pairs cherry with rigid upholstery in pale cranberry, suggestive of a sort of Parisian nouveau; and the “Fainting Couch,” a modernized divan framed in silver-tinged tiger maple, will accommodate any and all ladies (or gentlemen) brought to such a state in the presence of Zuckerman and Co.’s impressive oeuvre.

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