Award winning architect, Zaha Hadid has always wanted tableware made from wood. Upon receiving this open brief, Gareth Neal chose to play with the form of a carafe or water carrier and turn it into something more sculptural.
Gareth Neal comments, "The debate between the subtleties of the handmade and digital fabrication is an age old debate. It is my view that the CNC is just an extension of the crafts man’s hands. So when asked whether I would like to answer to Zaha’s brief to design some tableware, I thought it would be a great opportunity to use the architectural practice’s advanced computer modelling software and push the envelope, Benchmark’s abilities, and my initial designs into a conversation between our two practices."
Our initial response to this design was that it was unmakeable and Sean urged Gareth to have a rethink. But after further thought and discussion, we decided that it might be possible with adaptations and upgrades to our CNC equipment.
The form of the vessels was cut from stack laminated solid oak with the CNC ball end cutter removing material in 4 axis. The programming for this was so extensive that it took 2 days alone for each vessel and the volume of code from the CAM system meant that the upload time accounted for nearly as much time as the making. The vessels were then hand finished and sanded.
Gareth had originally envisaged a burnt finish for the vessels but it was decided that the risk was too great. Ebonizing techiques using iron filings and vinegar were investigated but in the end Zaha loved the original finish which reinforces the juxtaposition of the digital design made in natural wood.
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