Q&A: The Lubin Bench

Jacek Ostoya (Designer) and Peter Brayshaw (Craftsman)
Lublin Bench, 2003
Mebel LLC
Mr. Ostoya responds

Where did the idea for the bench’s design come from?
Aesthetically, I envisioned a sculptural slab of timber with holes carved out of it floating in the middle of my somewhat empty living room, not unlike the work of Mexican sculptor Jorge Yazpik. Functionally, I wanted this beautiful object to serve as a table you were allowed to sit or put your feet on, and also as an ottoman that would hold glasses and bowls without tipping them over. Form followed need.

What’s innovative about it?
That it truly invites multiple uses: Do I sit on it or put my drink on it? We’ve even used one as a stage for a poetry reading. And unlike other benches I’ve seen, there is a recess in the tabletop that holds the cushion in place when you sit on it.

What was the greatest challenge to realizing the design?
Taking the original concept of a long, sculptural, floating slab and distilling it into a finished production piece of usable furniture without losing the impact of that original idea. Also, integrating “holes” into furniture is trickier than one might imagine.

Tell us something interesting that happened to you during the development of the bench.
Where do we begin? Between Peter and I (who also happens to be my brother-in-law), we beat cancer, increased the size of our families by three kids, gave up our steady paychecks, and moved our families from Los Angeles and New York City to San Francisco in order to set up our design studio and prototype shop. As if that were not enough, Peter acquired a new obsession for playing soccer that was only compounded by the discovery that his great-great-grandfather, Teddy, played for the English National Soccer team in 1887.

What’s your favorite object?
I honestly do not want to sound self-serving, but my favorite object is my ten-foot-long dining table. I love the look, I love the feel, and I love its impact on our home life. Since building it last year, we have easily hosted all our family’s holiday dinners. It doubles as a large work surface, but still leaves room to feed the kids; and now we invite more friends to our dinner parties. It has witnessed a lot of happy times. A close second, though, is the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, an enduring Pininfarina classic. It reminds me of a bar of fine dark chocolate.

Is there anything you absolutely must do while you’re in New York for the ICFF?
Get a slice of sour cream apple walnut pie à la mode from the Little Pie Company. Perhaps we can finish it off on our way to Sublime or the Whitney Biennial.

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