Five Days of Frame #115: Behind Mark Laban’s primitive approach to cutting-edge design

PROCESS – Mark Laban’s Rustic Stool is his interpretation of a Japanese teahouse, but the manufacturing process is less traditional and more cutting edge innovation — literally. 

Drawing inspiration from the concept of wabi-sabi, which champions a worldview focused on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, Laban took his design cues from the rusticity found in traditional teahouse architecture. 

However, Laban created his stool using contemporary digital manufacturing processes and computer aided manufacture software. 'I discovered that by manipulating variables within the parameters of the CAM software I could produce interesting distortions that are conventionally imperfect or incomplete, like the "rough" patterned textures,' explains Laban.

Experimenting with the artificially generated rough textures led Laban to draw a comparison with tree bark, which in turn led to design iterations influenced by the original stool archetype — rustic seats constructed from log slabs and incorporating simple wedged construction techniques. 

To translate the digital to the physical, Laban 3D-modelled the final components of the stool as simple solid forms and calibrated the cutting tool to produce the desired geometric cuts, giving the components a texture like tree bark. Finally, once the milling was completed, the parts were sanded, the joint details completed manually and the piece assembled.

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Frame 115

The March/April issue of Frame explores how physical retail spaces can remain relevant in an increasingly digital era. Enter the retail revolution.

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