Before attending London’s Royal College of Art (RCA), Anton Alvarez spent two years at a craft school in Sweden, mastering the techniques of traditional cabinetmaking. Yet it was only after the London- and Stockholm-based designer set aside those time-honored skills that he was able to start his career in earnest, inventing a new joinery method he calls “thread wrapping” for his RCA thesis—a project that made him a breakout design-world star and got his sculptural pieces into a London Design Museum show last fall, alongside works by Arik Levy and Maarten Baas.
To create his lamps, stools, and benches, Alvarez feeds components of various shapes and sizes through his proprietary thread-wrapping machine, a motorized ring of spools that, as it spins, binds whatever passes through it in a tight cocoon of glue-soaked string. “In cabinetmaking, if you want to add a brass handle, you need a screw, and if you want to add upholstery, you need nails,” the designer explains. “This incorporates everything at the same time.” It’s a clever, idiosyncratic approach that borrows from traditional craft to produce unconventionally beautiful results.
“What’s of-the-moment about Anton’s project is that instead of just making objects he has made the object that makes the objects,” says London gallerist Libby Sellers, who exhibited several of Alvarez’s pieces at this summer’s Design Miami/Basel fair and is planning a solo show of his work next year. “His only constraint is the size of the wheel,” she adds. Already Alvarez is thinking bigger. “My goal is to take this up to a more architectural scale,” he says. He believes his methods might someday prove useful to the construction industry. “For now,” he says, “I’m just letting the process lead me toward the future.” antonalvarez.com
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