Nature as a Centrepiece – Furniture Design by Simon Johns
Simon Johns makes viscerally appealing furniture that employs equal, often mirrored focus on its sculptural and functional qualities. Based in the woods of East-Bolton in southern Quebec, Canada, he is able to combine the visual qualities of this secluded landscape with a razor sharp attention to craftsmanship and detail.
Each of Johns’s unique works is based on the contrast between natural and artificial – accentuating the subtle textures of organic materials with expertly treated design elements crafted from wood and metal. Mirrored surfaces are a common motif, duplicating the irreplaceable forms of a rock face or wood grain and suggesting they go on past the realm of our observation. Unpredictable textures meet straight lines and right angles in poetic systems that suggest these two disparate worlds of man-made and organic material can possibly exist in perfect harmony.
Of particular note are the pieces in his Missisquoi series, made from single blocks of stone with wooden planks or sheets of metal cut to mimic their silhouettes. They are simple yet elegant statements of this relationship, recalling the way that Frank Lloyd Wright saw his architectural creations as extensions of the landscape they were built upon.
Another remarkable work is the Core Table, a concrete coffee table topped with a circular mirror that references the patterns of blasted stone dynamited to build roadways. This heavy-handed process is repurposed in combination with the sensibilities of brutalist architecture to imply a more cooperative relationship between our often shortsighted approach to human infrastructure.
The furniture is quietly dignified and humble at the same time – the fabricated elements seeming to primarily function as signifiers of the natural forms that inspired their creation. The resulting effect is one of nature as the centrepiece, each polished and reflective surface drawing the eye to its origin, as if the table was somehow hewn from the shale itself. Simon Johns has proven that given the right perspective, it is possible to work with the natural world towards a common goal – even if that goal is as ubiquitous as simple beauty.