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Furniture design collective exhibits new works created from trees that fell during windstorm
Chaise lounge, Harold Greene, cedar of Lebanon, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Craft & Folk Art Museum presents Windfall by Box Collective, a group exhibition of ten Los Angeles furniture designers and makers whose new works are sourced from trees that fell in northeastern L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley during the historic windstorm of 2011. The exhibition consists of 15 works of furniture, sculpture, and domestic objects made from salvaged trees from areas such as Arcadia, Chinatown, Pasadena, and Montecito Heights. The collective waited four years for the wood to air-dry before designing and making the displayed works. Windfall is on view from May 28 - September 4, 2016.

The Box Collective’s designer-makers share a common ethos of fabricating original designs from local wood sourced from reclaimed materials and urban salvage. They each helm their own small businesses with a “tree-to-table” approach, making timeless, well-crafted, and livable domestic objects in the same vein as celebrated designers Sam Maloof, George Nakashima, and Carl Malmsten.

“This exhibition seeks to showcase the incredible bounty that exists among the broken, the disused, and the discarded,” elaborates CAFAM Executive Director Suzanne Isken. “Windfall features locally manufactured, highly crafted, green designs that open a public dialogue on the importance of sustainability in a world filled with too many thoughtless objects.”

A specificity of time and place unifies the objects created for Windfall, as each of the woods used to create them fell on the same night. The historic San Gabriel Valley windstorm of 2011 occurred between November 30th and December 1st, during which time wind speeds reached up to 100 miles per hour. Nearly 5,500 trees were damaged in Pasadena, while hundreds more were destroyed in neighboring vicinities, including about 300 non-native and prehistoric species at the Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Gardens in Arcadia.

“Anybody who was in L.A. during those storms will have distinct memories of the extreme winds, giving them a connection to the pieces similar to two strangers meeting who share a common experience,” elaborates designer Robert Apodaca. “This connection is especially beneficial in a time when people want to become more aware of where the things they buy come from, whether that be furniture, products, or even their food.”

Most of the works are made out of woods collected from the L.A. Arboretum’s fallen trees. David Johnson’s media cabinet is made from the entire trunk of a pink cedar, while designer Stephan Roggenbuck collected a Lebanese cypress to craft a handcarved bench. Cliff Spencer used pieces of a paulownia tree to make a sleek, contemporary beehive. Furniture maker Harold Greene’s chaise lounge is built from bent and laminated layers of a cedar of Lebanon. Woodworker Andrew Riiska chose a persimmon to build his Grasshopper Lounge Chair and a bench that will be part of an interactive, site-specific installation in the CAFAM lobby.

Some designers found material from trees that fell around their neighborhoods. Robert Apodaca’s hand-carved and scorched Blackout Bowls are made from recovered pieces of a eucalyptus tree that knocked over power lines near his home in Chinatown. Furniture maker William Stranger salvaged an Engelmann oak from a house near his studio in Pasadena to make a mirror and parts of a coffee table. Casey Dzierlenga milled a fallen maple tree in her friend’s backyard in Montecito Heights to make the Lorca Coffee Table.

Designers RH Lee and Samuel Moyer also incorporate wood from windstorms outside of Los Angeles into their pieces. RH Lee salvaged pieces of a walnut claro in Santa Rosa, CA that have become end tables. Samuel Moyer’s Arrow Console is fabricated from an ironwood tree that landed on his truck in a Hudson River Valley windstorm in New York.

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