Hot on the heels of the J.L. Lawson steelworking video we posted earlier this week and subsequent debate about the material and craft, John Beck sent in a couple new lighting and furniture designs. The Illinois-based "Hand Maker" is, according to his own felicitous phrasing, "tired of seeing the same old shit." Assuming that this decontextualized Tweet refers to his craft of furniture and lighting design and production, Beck turns steel into steel furniture and lighting.
In his latest work, Beck is rigorously laissez-faire in his approach: once he arrives at a functional form—in the latest work, this tends to be a geometric volume of Platonic regularity—the product is ready for a clearcoat and out the door. Embellishment is either optional (in the case of the lamps) or nonexistent (the tables, below).
The "Big Pete Light" is essentially a cylinder of steel, "available in HR black (shown), brown, copper and colors," that serves as a pendant lampshade. The (optional)skull detail on the pull cord might come across as contrived, but I think it's a nice touch, a curious memento mori that dangles from the fixture as a distraction from the otherwise impenetrable steel shade.
The "Chalkboard Pendant," which is precisely that, is a bit lighter, in concept if not physical presence. Again, the lamp is a steel cylinder that doubles as a canvas for a bit of schoolhouse chic. Beck says that "these are very popular in restaurants and bars," though they could also find a place in an office or residence.
The Raw Steel Tables are a veritable world away from, say, Max Lipsey's "Acciaio" (Italian for "steel") chairs: these are as industrial as it gets, rectangular sheets of steel with two 90° folds, the far side of the minimalist aesthetic.
These tables are very simply designed, and the finish is left exactly as it was made at the steel mill with the only addition being a clear coat. These are tables that do what they do. Options are available mind you, like custom sizes and painted insides.
The whole operation reminds me of the scene in "D'Acciaio" ("Of Steel"), where master framebuilder Dario Pegoretti talks about the smell of steel, "the fact that it has a unique smell that anybody could recognize... It's the life of steel. It's the honesty of it which sometimes amazes me, even now..." (4:17).
Beck is also eager to takes on custom projects, including a variety of bespoke home fixtures, signage, etc.