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.