Lard Series by Commonwealth



David Boira and Zoë Coombes of New York architecture and design studio Commonwealth have designed a series of furniture inspired by cooking fat.


The collection comprises a chest of drawers, table and set of stacking stools that combine geometric forms with richly textured surfaces.


Watch the designers talking about the furniture in our Design Indaba video.


Photography by Timothy Saccenti.


Here's some more information from Commonwealth:


Lard Series-
A family of furniture by Commonwealth.
The series consists of three simple and functional pieces:
a bureau, a table, and a stacking set of stools.


Lard: (n.)
a refined cooking ingredient obtained from the fatty tissue of a pig. During the 19th century, lard was used in a similar fashion to butter, until the industrial revolution made hydrogenated vegetable oils more common and available. Despite lard's rich flavors and soft texture, this unprocessed historical staple has mostly been eliminated from the diets of English-speaking cultures.


With a perverse appreciation for this forgotten fat, the 'Lard Series' began as an attempt to investigate these otherwise dismissed visceral sensibilities. What was produced from this research is a family of furniture consisting of three simple and functional pieces: a bureau, a table and a stacking set of stools.


Lard, as an idea is evocative of both greasy unease and delectable comfort. Reflecting this ambiguous reputation, the Lard surfaces attempt to create desire through an uncanny sense of near definition. Pockets formed within the lard itself function as 'near handles', moments at which one can slip a finger in, to lift what lies above.


The handle here is not simply an ergonomic void made to receive the hand in a pre-determined place, but rather, an elusive surface, which encourages moments of pleasurable discovery.


But as is true for all pleasures, nothing amplifies sensorial effect like a sense of limit. Here, each pieces of furniture is composed of two distinct geometric systems- the glistening, wet form of the lard and the rigid orthogonal volumes which define the boundaries of each piece. The juxtaposition of these two sensibilities presents more than a blunt idea of contrast.


Rather, the pairing of the minimal with the intricate is an attempt to establish a rhythmic relationship between the metered orthogonal grids and the more melodic topological surfaces within.


The 'Lard Series' makes no claim to break to break from the easy markers of Euclidean space. Instead, it embraces both a sense of defined regulation and a perverse appreciation for irregular, lard-like form.


Like the opening of an animal, it is the moving parts of the 'Lard Series' that enable the greatest moments of surprise. In the case of the bureau, the exterior finish is discretely detailed with a minimalist sense of precision. With a soft push of a drawer, a dampened spring exposes the exquisite insides in glossy white.


In the case of the table, a hint of lard peaks from beneath a flat polished table-top. The retracted table leaf below reveals itself fully when extended like a glistening textured tongue.


In the 'Lard Series', the mechanisms are not at the service of the high-tech or the purely mechanical but rather they are the means by which a simple piece of furniture can evoke an intense sense of cinematic surprise.


Lard Series, (2009).
Lard Table, Lard Bureau. and Lard Stacking Stools.
Materials: Medite (formaldehyde free MDF) and Richlite solid surface. Blum Hardware. Water based white lacquer paint finish.


Posted on Wednesday March 4th 2009 at 1:26 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • theo

    more interesting to me before I read the verbage…

  • orlovsky

    LARD: slick, greasy and of no nutritional value.
    WORDS: very Emperor’s New Clothes.

  • marcos

    Wow, love the lush!

  • a little too fattening for my taste – and too blobby too…

  • Holden D

    Didn’t Greg Lynn, Decoi, Span etc. already do this like a billion times? Yes, we have a CNC mill, yes, it will produce awesome surfaces with cool bit-grooves, yes we can write an awesome semantic blubber cake of a text. Getting quite tedious by now, but still nice though. I would love a one of them “lard” cupboards. Just don’t pass it off as something new or overly cerebral.. Peace out :]

  • johnG

    Ikea particle board boxes with CNC linings or wrappings. Not overly impressive but probably highly profitable. Can we file it under the IKEAMODS.

  • LOW

    Rhino+CNC= fancy textures
    meh… Im not convinced

  • Ali

    I dont get this at all.

  • Mookie

    Why can’t anyone just say that they make these forms because they look cool? It’s formalism. So what. Admit it. I like it. End of story.

  • daniel

    ..i think it’s an insult to greg lynn (and maybe to decoi too) to be mentioned with span at the same time. greg lynn is god and way beyond all these 3d kids, spamers and scamers.

  • Joe

    The details make these objects look cheap, like the way there are these 3-d inlays inside the drawers and they meet at the corner with an open crevice. I’m guessing these people aren’t familiar with what plastic products look like after normal use for some years. Coming soon to a charitable thrift store near you.

  • Charlene

    I don’t know… probably just me, but those colours and forms are a bit irritating and disturbing..

  • very poor design that looks good but seems very impractical.
    furniture should surely be about functionality, not looking cool!

  • Katerina

    It’s not plastic , if you read the materials it says Richlite. I went to their website and it seems to be a very strong paper pressed solid material that is mostly used for counter tops but works great with CNC. I like it, minimal and crazy all in one.

  • jd

    C’mon kids. Back in school Mark R would have told you that the project isn’t interesting until the two systems actually do interact…like the lard bleeding out onto your “metered orthoganal grids.” nonetheless, best of luck with your firm.

  • Sorry for the tangent, but lard is not the nutritional evil we’ve been taught by ADM. If you’re going to fry foods, lard is one of the healthiest things to fry it in.

    That doesn’t make the “awesome semantic blubber cake of a text” (great phrase by the way) any less ridiculous.

  • ba7ar

    hard to clean

  • Elixa

    Dezeen readers can be such a cantankerous bunch of armchair crybabies!

    I think these pieces of furniture are pretty beautiful. I like that they are called ‘Lard’- because it makes me think of playing with the stuff with my mom who used to bake with it. Lard is squishy, and nourishing actually, and as the guy above pointed out- it is really a healthy ingredient. I think it’s a very romantic name.

    As to their functionality- they seem pretty basic and useful. I always want to have a table with long leaves underneath. Never enough space on our table at home. I like it.

  • Stefan, Berlin

    Those drawings are very strong. Everything looks well crafted, which is something that I really respect. I appreciate a studio that isn’t showing mere renderings. I wish I could see more of the furniture in an house or apartment though, so I could see it in use.

    I’m always sort of jealous in my own little way of designers who are good with new technologies and drawing tools. I think it is too hard for me to learn this stuff now. But its exciting to see this new way of design develop by up and coming designers. Also, I think it is a real craft to learn.

  • Doug montgomery

    If furniture is just about functionality, then one chair design would suffice for eternity. I hate the functionalist ideology. It’s boring. Beauty is a very human need – these fulfill that requirement for me. Functionalism and the attempt by it’s advocates to indoctrinate, strikes me as a little misanthropic and presumptuous. I’m a design student and many of the tutors try to infect the students with their bitterness.