An artist’s quest to reinvent the chair

Designer’s inventive Split chair is a 21st-century riff on a classic 19th-century design.

Designer Arik Levy has a unique perspective on wood.Designer Arik Levy has a unique perspective on wood.Designer Arik Levy has a unique perspective on wood. (Photo: Arik Levy)

At Milan Design Week, designer Arik Levy recently introduced a new twist on the concept of the bent wood chair with his "split" wood chair design.

Levy, born in Israel and now based in Paris, has been working with historic Czech furniture manufacturer TON. He wanted to test the limits of wood. He and TON collaborated for two years to successfully adapt the company’s 150-year-old manual bending technique that allowed them to bend and split wood in two – all without breaking it – to create the stable, load-bearing, sculptural legs of an edgier, more forward-looking take on the traditional bentwood chair.

A close-up look at the designer's split chair.A close-up look at the designer's split chair. (Photo: Arik Levy)

“The design concept and forms are inspired from the intersection of [planes] in space,” Levy says in a project description, “and the connection between them is done via the banded split wood.”

The Split series includes chairs, barstools, armchairs and lounge chairs with generous, modern proportions and comes in varying woods and finishes. Levy decided to push the chair’s innovative look by adapting the same gradient paint technique he likes to use when designing surfboards, compelling TON’s traditional artisans to learn how to hand spray paint the chairs to create an ombre effect.

To hear Levy talk more about his work process, check out the following video:


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