New York–based designer Brad Ford and entrepreneur Jamie Hammel have a shared affinity for fine woodworking. Ford grew up on the edge of the woods down South, in Russellville, Arkansas, and now runs the furniture showroom Fair and the annual Field+Supply crafts fair.
Raised in Amish country, Hammel left a career in tech to build his dream of a boutique sawmill in Pine Plains, New York, in 1995 – back when the salvage business was a veritable rural treasure hunt. Today, The Hudson Company’s dusty salvaged barnwood lives everywhere from private homes to Renzo Piano’s sleek Whitney Museum of American Art.
In a new collaboration for NYCxDesign, Ford and Hammel, who previously worked together on the Hudson Company’s Manhattan showroom, will mount an exhibition there that highlights wood and craftsmanship through the humble chair.
The Wickson chair by Michael Robbins.
Call it an antidote to the city’s frenetic design calendar this month. “I wanted to say, ‘Everyone calm down and sit for a moment,’” laughs Ford. The exceptional chairs assembled in “Sitting Still,” he says “celebrate a generation of older craftsmen.” Ford raided his own enviable archive for two different walnut chairs by 20th-century design icon George Nakashima; other models came from favorite local dealers Weinberg Modern and reGeneration Furniture.
Coil+Drift’s Soren Black chair.
Ford added contemporary makers from his own furniture showroom Fair, in the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue. Though occasionally understated, nothing exhibited lacks for ingenuity, or personality.
Visitors can examine design details up close while wandering among the chairs sitting on oak pedestals left unfinished to match the showroom’s impressive blonde oak floor. Some may even find themselves reaching out to caress tiny carved human hands that terminate both arms of a witty Wayland Sack-Back armchair, in blackened maple and ash, from the irreverent founders of Rhode Island’s O&G Studio. Others might, quite simply, just sit.