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By Eva Hagberg
Roy McMakin has the enviable knack for making art out of the ordinary domestic object. In his capable hands, the familiar becomes unfamiliar whether it is a house, a chair or a dresser.
It's only fitting then the Seattle-based artist has turned his attention to the floor. Designed for Ebony and Co, a company that harvests its own American lumber, processes the timber itself, and makes floors to order in a 'slow' way, McMakin's contribution is typically curious. Floors are generally constructed from regular strips of wood, joined together at regular intervals so as to produce a pattern so regular that it almost fades into itself; McMakin's floor is constructed from differently shaped slats forced together at non-continuous intervals.
'It's a counterpoint to the typical linear floor,' McMakin says from Maine, where he's completing an artists' residency. 'By cutting them into pieces and having different widths that butt up against each other, you have an alternate force going across the floor. I was trying to play off the archetype of a strip floor.'
This subtle intervention was documented by photographer Kyle Johnson for wallpaper.com, to accompany his portrait of McMakin (above) for our November (W*140) issue.
The intrepid photographer trekked out to Big Leaf Manufacturing, the Washington state workshop where most of McMakin's projects take place, for a behind the scenes glimpse of the manufacturing process. From the arrival of the crates of timber from Ebony and Co, to unguarded moments between Scott Graczyk, a manager and supervisor at Big Leaf, and co-workers Frank Peck and Andy Taylor, the photographs provide a rare insight into just how much effort goes into flooring, especially when they're as though provoking as McMakin's are.
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