When is a doorknob not just a doorknob, but a piece of sculpture? When it’s been conceived by designers David Scott and Tim Campbell, and impeccably produced by SA Baxter, esteemed maker of architectural hardware. During a recent visit to the SA Baxter showroom at the NYDC New York Design Center, the experience felt more akin to being in a high end jewelry store, or a room of ancient treasures at the Met. Thankfully no fluorescent lighting here; the space has been beautifully lit to feature the artistry on display.
I’ve always thought of door hardware as jewelry for the home; meant to adorn, create subliminal emotional responses and overt tactile pleasures, all while existing as a functional object. So I was especially drawn to the new 2014 Fall Artisan collection by SA Baxter featuring the vision of the aforementioned designers. All pieces in the collection are produced in the company’s eco-friendly Hudson Valley foundry/atelier where they turn out works of cast bronze and cast brass (and other metals) utilizing the ancient process known as lost wax casting. An art believed to be first practiced in Egypt and Africa where a clay mold, or metal sculpture, is made during the intricate casting process.
KALAHARI, A collaboration with interior designer David Scott:
“I didn’t want to create conventional hardware,” explained David Scott, about being invited by SA Baxter to create his own line. He loves the idea of organic forms emerging from the door’s surface, and in his vision the hardware becomes, what he described as, “a decorative extension of the architecture while still remaining functional.”
Scott’s elegant yet dynamic Kalahari Suite is based on what he saw within the majestic landscape and beauty of the African savannah: The sleek line of a tree against the setting sun, a curve in the river, or the simplicity of round forms created by nature, all served as inspiration. These primal forms and elements became what is now functional hardware, yet like jewelry, each component has a sleek sensuality that makes one want to reach out and touch it. I actually wanted to wear it! (earrings next, please David?)
Kalahari Suite. Seen here images 1-5
TROUSDALE, a collaboration with designer Tim Campbell:
“I like ordinary things to be special,” explains Tim Campbell when asked about his Trousdale collection; so named for the eponymous LA neighborhood where Studio Tim Campbell has redone many 1960’s houses. He is especially inspired by those of Rex Lotery, who was a British architect. Though not as well known as Richard Neutra’s houses, Campbell finds the Lotery houses, sexier, swankier and possessing a bit of swagger that he wanted to translate into the modern, yet transitional style of this hardware.
“A doorknob is a machine. It has a function, it has moving parts,” said Campbell, who personally wants what he touches every day to have real meaning. He reveres the ordinary when it is made extraordinary; and I believe it has been with the Trousdale collection. “Having a solid handmade piece of door hardware feels substantial, it makes a difference in one’s home,” Campbell said.
Together with SA Baxter’s design and engineering team, the Trousdale Suite came alive. Campbell played with different shapes that resulted in a multi-faceted diamond-like shape for door knob which perfectly matches the points on the coordinating rosette, creating a kind of optical illusion as the knob is turned. Light bounces off the surface as it would a fine gemstone. This is a juxtaposition of sophistication and glamour, along with seamless function.
Campbell is deeply committed to doing philanthropic work in Africa, where he visits several times each year. He explained that witnessing craft in a place where making something by hand is part of life, was integral to his thinking when designing Trousdale. “I’ve seen Massai warriors make beaded jewelry, and I’ve watched hand-made textiles be woven in Botswana; I know the love that goes into it.”
The Trousdale Suite, seen here, images 6-10
SA Baxter New York City Showroom
New York Design Center
200 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1205
New York, NY 10016
T: (212) 203-4382
F: (888) 713-6042
Design Centre Chelsea Harbour
Unit 314 Centre Dome
London, SW10 0XE
T: +44 (0) 20-8196-2410