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Jerwood Sculpture Park Seating

Jerwood Sculpture Park Seating

Furniture Award Winner 2007

Location: Warwickshire
Furniture Owner: Jerwood Foundation
Designer: Andrew Trotman
Maker: Andrew Trotman
Wood Species: English Oak, Sweet Chestnut

The brief required a collection of outdoor seating to be sited permanently at the Jerwood Sculpture Park to provide points of rest along the two mile sculpture trail.  Six site-specific designs have been created using fresh sawn oak and, in one case, coppiced roundwood sweet chestnut. These native hardwood species have been selected for their natural durability, material properties and aesthetic appeal. Elements of the sawmilling were unusual, requiring conversion of particularly steady and clear timber to produce slender and through-sawn boards for steaming and springing; and production of heavy, tapered sections.

The designs are inspired by organic and structural form, and explore relationships between mass, balance and strength. Use of buried supports offers greater scope for these concepts and also contributes to the safety and security necessary for a public space. The seating is only partly about sitting down: the experience should be active and the future designs are intended to be thought-provoking, tactile and often playful. The designs incorporate a variety of seating positions, allowing visitors to interact with each other and with landscape in different ways; the forms and the natural ground are used to create varying seat heights; full length backrests are provided for reclining; and users can be seated to face different direction from each place.

The oak furniture is handmade using methods derived from traditional carpentry and green- woodworking techniques. Curved forms of surprising strength are created by steaming, springing and ‘pre-stressing’ slender boards. The components are assembled using joints, secured with draw-pegs and wedges that are carefully designed to provide the necessary restraint and durability while accommodating the significant drying shrinkage of the timber during in situ seasoning. The appearance of the joints and their apparent functionality is fundamental part of the design aesthetic.