Letter From Boston: A Yankee Amendment

Letter From Boston: A Yankee Amendment

Maxwell Ryan
Dec 20, 2006

Meet Ben Durrell , a Boston-based furniture designer/maker who has recently launched the "A Yankee Amendment" series available exclusively at Vessel in Boston until the beginning of the year.

Aside from being well-crafted and pleasing to the eye, they each tell a story showing the playful, yet always practical, side of Durrell and his work. Durrell says, "We point geographical fingers until they hit home, then someone's behavior confirms the accusation.

The works in this series starts the same way, with a judgment about friends and family, us and them -- these kids are out of control, these people have to much crap --judgments that can be turned into solutions." Durrell continues, "Each piece highlights what I consider a Yankee outlook on life: hard work and dedication to task breeds clean souls and healthy homes."

My favorite, simply because it's quirky and well, I like quirky sometimes, is The Lobster Trap. In fact, I'm willing to bet it may help exorcise those clutter demons (or lobsters?) during week 3 of the The Cure for those battling the fear of letting go. What do you think? Let's see what Durrell has to say about a few of his designs from the series.

The Family Bed, 2006. Cherry, steel, sunlight. $2,800.-

"I often see clients come back to the workshop with sunlight-damaged furniture, darkened around the shape of objects that sat on their surfaces. What beautiful marks. This family's collection of teacups, that man's table runner woven years ago by someone's late wife... this could all be removed by some surfacing and a new finish. But why? These are not stains, they are the furniture's memory. The "ghost" image of the headboard you see is a result of sunlight darkening the cherry around my great grandmothers headboard which was clamped to the new headboard for a month.The contrast will re-align in a few months to a few years time, depending on the amount of natural light in your bedroom."

Lobster Trap, 2006 (Two versions. one in stainless, one powder coated). Steel rod. $1,800.-

"Yankees save their soap and string. If nothing more, this is a showcase for the bold strength of letting go of the crap in our lives. This applies to a lot in life, not just objects. The 'Lobster Trap' is
a place for the things you don't want to get rid of – yet. Objects with emotional attachment, old gifts from best friends, that wicked awesome Prozac promotional coffee mug, stuffed animals, your
hole-ridden t-shirt from 1989...you need a halfway point on the way to the dumpster."

Everything In Its Place, 2006. Pine, steel, recycled materials. $2,000.-

"This is a wardrobe for children that encourages the child to plan a school weeks' worth of outfits. There's a built-in hamper and weekend craft project with various recycled materials for weaving around the hamper frame. Does the concept of a week mean anything to a child, and should it? Is day to day okay? I acknowledge that in offering this product I am endorsing its use. As with most parental matters relating to your children, this is none of my business, but I do have an opinion, which I'll keep to myself, and my wife."

Durrell has participated with design collectives and also on smaller-scale custom furniture commissions and concept-to-mass-market projects for big box retailers. Durrell's work has shown at venues such as the Tokyo Designers Block, Milan Furniture Fair, and the ICFF. Currently he maintains a studio in downtown Boston with designer Matthew Christensen under the name + / -, or 'Give or Take.' Please contact Vessel for more information at duane[at]vessel[dot]com where his work is available to view by appointment only until the beginning of the year.

(Top image: One Up, 2006, Pine. $500.-)

-Holly from Decor 8

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