John Houshmand’s Black Walnut Table

I’m as much of a fan of “smart” synthetic materials as the next guy. That is to say, as long as it isn’t depleting the ozone, poisoning the manufacturer (or user), or generally contributing to environmental degradation, I’m all for it—even if its name is unpronounceable. The HDPE in the recent Orbis collection by Solisombra is an auspicious case in point, but if you really want to charm me give me a large hunk of sustainably harvested wood. Seems like Spring—with its accordant locally-oriented shows like Brooklyn Designs and ICFF—brings this organic strain to the fore, as in designer John Houshmand’s stunning synthesis of wood and metal: the Black Walnut and Hammered Bronze Dining Table/Console.

Black Walnut Table. Designed by John Houshmand.

The Black Walnut Table has an Earthy Aesthetic

Perhaps because the name of the piece includes the word “hammered,” there’s something sublimely elemental about Houshmand’s table. Excepting glues and finishes, the piece is composed of two materials only. And from the looks of it, both the oversized slab of black walnut and the twin sheets of undulating bronze are pure and whole as well. Houshmand doesn’t mention whence he sourced the veritable cross-section of an aged walnut tree, but he does say the piece, which will debut at ICFF beginning May 14, was custom-designed for a Central Park West apartment. One imagines this to be a rather spacious home, for such a large and lovely table could only find suitable concordance among suitably airy environs. Certainly it can’t hurt that the piece will be proximal to the park, where the infiltrating play of light and leaf is sure to pay a fitting complement.

About the Designer: John Houshmand has an intriguing way of characterizing his philosophy of design: “when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, toys from the US were scarce. If you wanted a boat or a toy gun, you made it. And although we westerners are additive in our assemblies, indigenous peoples are subtractive.” Houshmand seems to have absorbed this indigenous propensity for making due with what’s at hand. To that end, much of his work has a sculptural feel; many of the pieces appear to be wrought rather than assembled. Houshmand loves working with wood, and his portfolio includes tables, beds, shelving, chairs, desks, and benches—each of which evinces the discerning eye and crafty hands of a master artisan.

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