Elizabeth Lenny is currently working on her Masters of Architecture from the University of Waterloo, located just outside of Toronto, Canada. Throughout her studies, she has worked with various design studios including Studio Sabine Marcelis and Ladies and Gentlemen Studio. Despite her architectural background, Elizabeth focuses on smaller-scale projects which allow for design and production to happen simultaneously. Fabrication is not a means to an end but rather an integral part of the design process.
This series, 10490, reflects a process: the development of an embodied knowledge through engaging with the material and intimacy that comes from experience.
For the past year, Elizabeth made 19 seats, primarily from wood she collected from my childhood home: ‘My hands imprinted an ideology onto the wood, and in turn, material knowledge was worked into my consciousness. This reciprocal relationship between myself and the material imbues the object with meaning. The work becomes a network of relations, connecting my body, the place of making, and the site of material to the work itself.’
Elizabeth Lenny: My passion began as a young girl, probably 11 or 12. My father does some woodworking, making mostly practical things for their house, cabinets, cutting boards, etc. From a young age, I would help him and watch him make things. We would walk through the forest and he would teach me about trees and wood and their different properties. As I started studying architecture, making models became fundamental to my work, often using wood from my parents’ property.
Elizabeth Lenny: This project began as part of my Thesis Research for my Masters of Architecture degree in January of 2020, just before COVID and the lockdowns began. Many of the challenges were based on trying to challenge my understanding of what a material is. One of the biggest struggles and questions I still often struggle with is how to acknowledge and show that the material, in this case, wood, is an active being within the design process.
Title: N 07 | Year: 2020
‘I was intrigued by the soft curves of the trunk of the tree, the warmth of the edges, and its contradicting mass. The boards in front of me were hard and sharp. I started to remove the material. I wanted to find that softness again.’
Materials: hand-carved ash
Dimensions: 12.5”L x 12.5”W x 16.5”H | Price: 1640€
Title: N 11 | Year: 2020
‘Two boards were planed and glued for each leg.
The curve was marked in pencil on each side.
The chisel dug into the wood.
The wood flaked away with each blow of the
The rasp rounds the rough edges left by the chisel,
softening the form.
Sanding further abstracted the marks of the carving, leaving a soft anthropomorphic curve. The legs stand on their tippy-toes. The seat was rough cut on the bandsaw before it starts spinning on the lathe, rotating so fast it becomes a blur. It gets into the round. The seat is flattened and slightly carved out to create the slightest lip on the edge, barely noticed by the eye but felt with the hand.’
Materials: ash | Dimensions: 13 D x 16.5” H | Price: 1640€
Title: N 13 | Year: 2020
‘The walnut tree had been growing on my parents’ property for as long as I could remember and likely long before. During a summer storm 17 years ago, the tree was killed by a lightning strike. A mobile mill came to the house. The tree was cut into boards of a variety of shapes and sizes. It was sawn in different ways – plain quartered and rift – revealing patterns in the grain. The boards were stacked and left to dry for a few years in a barn, a semi-conditioned space that is not necessarily the best place for drying wood. The results of this process varied: some of the boards made it through relatively unscathed and straight, others became bowed and cupped, with splits, cracks, and some odd stains.
This board was cut into three pieces, leaving the rough edge that was the result of its milling. It was left bowed and cupped rather than made flat. The wood shows traces of the less than ideal drying conditions, the planar cut, and the tension that exists within the grain of the slab. The joints, announced by brass details, mark the places the board was cut.
This seat tells the story of this tree, its transition into a board, then a seat. Left unfinished it will continue to change with time and use, honouring the tree’s past while adding to its story of becoming.’
Dimensions: 9.5” L x 16.5” W x 17” H | Price: 1410€
Title: N 18 | Year: 2020
‘The maple had been standing dead in my parents’ backyard for many years. In the fall of 2019, it was felled to make room for the saplings beneath it. I collected the logs from the forest floor and cut them into my desired shapes and sizes. Without a kiln or time to properly dry them, I baked each piece in the oven for hours until they felt ready.
Without a humidity meter, I relied on my hands and my instinct. Some of these chunks were resawn on the bandsaw to make boards, others were used as they were: massive, rough, rounded – pieces of a tree.
I used one of these large chunks for the base of the seat. The sharp edge of the aluminum cuts into the wood, signifying a familiar action: using a sharp metal blade to cut into a tree and extract wood.
The aluminum sheets create the back and seat, wedging themselves into the piece of the tree.’
Materials: maple, aluminum
Dimensions: 19” L x 19” W x 24” H | Price: 1875€
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