Keen to showcase the marvellous marriage of craftsmanship and design that is Jasper Morrison’s new ‘Alfi’ seating range for Emeco, we not only teamed them up again to produce a special version of the ‘Alfi’ chair for Wallpaper* Handmade, we also invited the American furniture manufacturer’s stellar metal worker, Josh Fisher, to manufacture it live at our exhibition in Milan during Salone del Mobile this April.
The ‘Alfi’ collection – a chair, two stools and a three-seater bench – is based around Emeco and Morrison’s shared belief that what you don’t see is as important as what you do see. It embodies the hidden qualities of comfort, responsible materials and humble design. Strengthening Emeco’s commitment to sustainability, the seats – available in a restrained palette of brown, green, sand, red and grey – are made of reclaimed industrial waste (a combination of polypropylene and wood fibre), while the bases are crafted from ash wood. An elliptical hole makes for easy carrying.
For our Wallpaper* one-off, Fisher was to produce a 100 per cent handmade ‘Alfi’ chair with a seat in recycled aluminium – a perfect example of Emeco’s craft capabilities and the design’s adaptability. The metalworker’s manufacturing nous, combined with his passion for everything handmade (as evidenced by the tattoo spelling the word on his knuckles) made him a fitting ambassador for Wallpaper* Handmade. It was the first time in Emeco’s 70-year history that one of its craftsmen had travelled from its Hanover, Pennsylvania, factory to demonstrate the fine art of Emeco chair-making. The metalwork processes on show included cutting metal sheets, bending and curving them, panel beating, welding, grinding down the welds to perfection, sanding the metal surface, hand polishing the surface and heat treating – all demonstrated at a daily performance during the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition that made the chair come to life before our visitors’ eyes.
Now, precision-panel-beating a piece of aluminium into a Handmade masterpiece in front of a demanding and informed audience is no picnic. So we thought it only fair – and fitting, given the gastronomic theme of this year’s exhibition – to extend the reach of this collaboration and feed Mr Fisher. To create a Panel Beater’s Picnic, we turned to London’s St John, Morrison’s favourite restaurant, home of nose-to-tail eating and an institution that shares Emeco and Handmade’s values of considered materials and production. St John’s founder, chef Fergus Henderson, concocted a suitable meal. His recipe featured the restaurant’s signature ingredient, bone marrow, as the topping for a classic pizza. And while Fisher was hard at work hand-producing the chair, Arnold Hoeksma, sous chef at St John’s original Smithfield base, cooked the pizza for our team, visitors, passers-by and, of course, for Fisher himself.
As originally featured in the August 2015 edition of Wallpaper* (W*197)