Art and design have changed a lot throughout the centuries, continuously mirroring the needs and lifestyles of each period. Renaissance furniture was calm and full of ancient themes, during the Rococo period it saw a rise in ornamentation and mirrors, and we could go on and on. In reality, only in the last century did design become almost entirely functional. The truth is that, before, beautiful furniture was not something that everyone could afford, so the ones that could wished to show off their social-economic status.
After the First World War, society was sick of putting a pretty bow on the hardships, so realism began to rise in popularity. Art was put face-to-face with toilets, industrial design met mass production, and furniture started coming out in simple designs. Society was hurting and opulence wasn’t needed.
Nowadays, most commercialized items show a world of extreme consumerism and loss of quality, that’s why some designers have started to bring a new period forward. The “Relief” coffee table is a great example of furniture that tries to bring a bit of poetry into the home, and we are here to tell you all about it.
“The real luxury today is being able to take the time and contemplate the wonders of this world.” – Ben&Manu.
A Nature Infused Coffee Table
The “Relief”coffee table is made out of walnut wood from sustainably managed French forests, which directly brings nature into the residence. The piece is handcrafted on demand by French cabinet makers and lead designers Benoit Vauthier and Manu Lerendu, the creators of the design studio Ben&Manu.
If being handcrafted didn’t make it special enough, the coffee table also has a hand-carved mountain in the centre, which makes each piece completely unique. The designers use traditional schulpting tools in their technique, keeping the idea of marrying function to aesthetics instead of leaving one behind.
Ben&Manu wanted to honour their partnership with the cabin makers by following their tradition to veneer the pieces. The choice of the wood used for the veneer is also symbolic, an answer to the consumerism that surrounds society today. With mass production, special woods have lost their significance and rarity, so the pair of designers decided to give an introspective touch to their piece by making it a link between art, design, and craftsmanship.
Philosophy and Design
History and tradition shouldn’t be left behind just so functionality can rule. Our culture has always grown out of creativity and admiration, courage and dreams, that’s why design must help us move forward instead of only giving way to utilitarian and realist beliefs. There is no way of knowing which trend or element is the best in the long run, so people should be able to choose what they feel is the best for themselves – there should be a choice for everybody.
The “Relief” coffee table is exactly this: a furniture piece that holds the space for contemplation, the romanticization of life, and serene wonder. And as this is something that looks different for everyone, let them each have their own unique piece.
Benoît Vauthier and Manu Lerendu met in Canada, at the Institut Québécois d’Ébénisterie, in 2012. During a three-year training course focusing on fine crafts, the pair started developing their very own ethos.
Vauthier was a former show lighting designer who wished to develop pieces that could survive the test of time instead of only being fleeting wonders. Lerendu, on the other hand, is a cabin maker from France who wanted to discover how cabinet-making is transmitted on the other side of the Atlantic.