Fort Standard’s New Striped Wood Collection Goes Against the Grain
Gio Ponti, cabana stripes, hoop skirts — these are just a few of the references that come to mind when you first see Fort Standard‘s new Cooperage collection, made from alternating stripes of light and dark wood, which launched this week in New York at Colony Design. But what you don’t necessarily think of is the process by which Fort Standard founder Gregory Buntain achieved the collection’s incredibly playful, graphic look. The darker pieces look as if they could be stained, or maybe drawn from another species of wood entirely, such as walnut. But in fact each chair, table, and stool is made from a single species of white oak — the darker pieces have simply undergone a process called torrefaction, in which they’re roasted at a high temperature but deprived of oxygen in order to darken rather than burn. (If you’re something of a coffee snob, you might recognize “torrefaction” as the process by which coffee beans are often cooked).
Like all of Fort Standard’s work, the new collection was largely material driven; Buntain discovered the darker wood only recently on a trip to one of his lumber vendors to pick out wood for another project. What he liked about the alternating stripes is that because they are the same species, they have a similar grain. “I think in general when people mix wood species, it can feel a bit crafty.” Buntain explain; he also skirted that fate by making the planks a chunky three inches as opposed to narrower ones that might have given the effect of a cutting board. Each piece also features large faceted elements that recall barrel-making, which is what gives the collection its name — “coopering” is the process of making barrels, or casks.
But while the collection — which includes new Tombstone Chairs and items from the Strata line — is an evolution of previous work, it also marks the first time Buntain has designed all of the work himself after the departure of Fort Standard co-founder Ian Collings. During the early phases of the project, Buntain took his followers on a journey through the process of creating a prototype for the dining chair on Instagram, which was also a new thing for the studio. Considering, however, that when Buntain first showed us an image of the chair we nearly fell off our bar stools, we honestly can’t wait to see what comes next.
PHOTOS BY BRIAN W. FERRY