Because lowering a pommel horse to bench height or stacking hurdles into seating would have been too obvious, James Henry Austin has gone for a more understated approach to translating the glory of the London Olympics into a furniture collection. The young Shropshire-based designer has opted to incorporate the spirit of sport into the materials of the Project Won collection, such that the only embellishments are but a subtle hint of their origin. Austin has salvaged the floorboards of UK sports halls (hardwood courts to 'mericans) as the source material for the five pieces, retaining the painted lines as an aesthetic nod to the past life of the planks (at first glance, I thought they referred to gold, silver and bronze).
The individual planks are hand sanded, leaving the original sports lines on display and then recoated with a natural wax oil... All the furniture is handmade in our Shropshire workshop using time tested traditional joinery techniques—the furniture is handmade to order, one piece at a time, and is built to last.
Thus, while Project Won may look like archetypal forms of a chair, table, bench, coffee table and coat rack, each piece is intended to embody athletic achievement in its very essence: "Bringing people together / Keeping the excitement alive / Staying sustainable."
As in Max Lipsey's "Acciaio" series or Neil Conley's trophy design, Austin has refined and reimagined the sheer physicality of sports and its accouterments as symbolic designs that obliquely refer to their inspiration... and are all the more elegant for it.