Top O the Morning to You: A Bench From James Lear

With a name like Lear, you know it’s got to be interesting. Following in the footsteps of such notable wits as Edward Lear, famous nonsense poet, designer James Lear presents his Top O Bench. The series of slats make Top O appear uncomfortable, but the depressed seats are made to accommodate the human derriere. Like an Edward Lear poem, Top O may at first seem simple, and yet the complications that arise are both surprising and expected.

Top O. Designed by James Lear.

Take these lines from The Owl and the Pussycat, who make an odd pair of lovers: “They dined on mince, and slices of quince / Which they ate with a runcible spoon / And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand / They danced by the light of the moon.” It’s as rational as it is irrational—just like the work of the young James Lear, a graduate of the furniture program of the Rhode Island School of Design.



Top O Bench abides by the affiliated quip of Voos, a one-of-a-kind furniture store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: “Made Here, Feel Good.” Lear’s bench is quirky but local, proving that the Dutch aren’t the only ones with strange ideas. The linearity of Top O works against the curvatures of the bench—a juxtaposition that acknowledges the human form while eschewing its clichéd silhouette. Top O Bench means to appear to be what it is, in fact, not—uncomfortable. The very look of disquietude is arresting, even if the experience of sitting denies this vexation. James Lear’s Top O Bench marries a disparate pair—line and contour—a pair as perplexing as an owl and a pussycat.

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