Along the Line of Happiness Laura Ellen Bacon & Sebastian Cox
Laura Ellen Bacon is an artist. Sebastian Cox is a cabinetmaker. Both British, they carry the project Along The Line of Happiness. Their collaboration first gave birth to Invisible Store of Happiness, a project created for Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 as part of the London Design Festival that same year. Initiated by the AHEC - American Hardwood Export Council - this project aims to celebrate American hardwood species. Among them for this project, the American cherry, the silver maple and the American red oak.
On the occasion of the Salone del Mobile 2016 which is taking place in Milan at this very moment, Laura and Sebastien reiterate the collaboration for the project Along the Line of Happiness. It then makes it possible to challenge the properties of each of the selected woods while comparing approaches from different trades.
A technical project
The structure is 3 meters in height and 9 meters in length. His particuliarity ? Its construction directly on the exhibition site. A space was integrated on site in order to have a steam box, a place to be able to soak the essences, and also a surface for sketching. The interest is to be able to share a creative and convivial moment in order to inform the public about the transformation of wood.
The wood species were first placed in the steam box, then curved around a shape designed for the occasion. All of these lengths of curved wood were assembled flat by bevelled joints. The structure could then be straightened using tenons and mortises. This framework then presents the wood in all its imperfect beauty, accompanied by knots, cracks, and wavy fibers.
Secondly, work on the interior of the structure was undertaken. Each wood has been sawn lengthwise to obtain pretty ribbons. They were dipped in water and then bent with steam to make them flexible enough to facilitate manual work and prevent them from breaking. The wooden ribbons were finally fixed to the main frame in its slots by tenons and mortises.
As you can imagine, the choice of wood is not trivial for this project. Red oak was selected for its strength and strength, making it attractive for steam bending. The silver maple has more aesthetic virtues, in particular thanks to its whitish sapwood and its heartwood varying from light red to dark brown. The American cherry tree has a fine and uniform grain, giving it an extremely smooth texture.
The goal of AHEC, Laura and Sebastian is not to sell more American hardwoods. It is above all to make the material understood, to enrich the debate around the technique. The share of innovation in the project is important, in particular thanks to the desire to push back the boundaries of what is already technically feasible with wood. This was possible by combining the knowledge of Laura and Sebastian, the knowledge of AHEC, but also the motivation of students who joined the project. The innovation does not stop at the Along the Line of Happiness structure itself, but goes through its environmental implication. Its carbon footprint reaches the equivalent of 36 kg of CO2, or half that of an iPhone.
For the lucky ones, the #Alongthelines project can be found during the Salone del Mobile in Milan, from April 11 to 23, 2016, at the Porticato Largo Richini of the University of Milan.
The simplicity of the collaboration mixed with the complexity of the structure.
- Photographer: Laura Ellen Bacon, Sebastian Cox, AHEC
- Location: Milan, Italy
- Year: 2016
- Website: https://www.americanhardwood.org/