Based in Chicago, Refractory is a design studio and community of artisans invested in the unique qualities of the American vernacular, "producing and purveying rigorously crafted works in a language that is distinct within American and contemporary design landscapes."
Take the Tributary Occasional Table. This is a clever and artful piece that deftly negotiates the netherlands between art and design. "Liminal" is a good phrase for navigating this oft-confounded terrain. And speaking of water metaphors, Tributary earns the moniker via its variety of varied forms and surprising intersections: "it's about headwaters and braided streams and also about the nature of tribute, the channeling of materials and processes into something contributory."
The varied materials here include cast bronze, hand-polished kiln-cast glass, solid oak, and black walnut, all beginning at a single source, conjoining, diverging, and remaining distinct in a fluid and unpredictable way that recalls a branching body of water.
Other items in the Tributary line include console, dining, side, and sofa tables, but we'll reserve exploration of those for another time, once we can conjour up more metaphors....
For further details, see Refractory.