Seattle is synonymous with grunge, coffee and computer nerds. It might also explain why a talented Seattle-based product designer like Peter Bristol would be best known for his designs for high-tech hardware for Microsoft or even more niche designs for specialised medical equipment.
But, as his recent Training Dresser shows, he’s equally at home when designing for domestic use. Using the stark simple language of graphic design, this chest of drawers is a both playful and educational item of household furniture meant to fulfil the practical function of clothing storage whilst simultaneously training the young owners in the essential developmental skill of dressing oneself. Of course, Peter can’t be held responsible for whatever choices the parents of the little tykes make about what goes inside which we all realise plays a key role in formative tastes. One can only hope that since they will have had the good taste to acquire such a handsome piece of furniture for their kids, that same good taste extends into what they choose to put inside it for their children to wear.
But just because it’s primarily for kids, don’t think that any shortcuts have been taken in producing it. Made from ULDF and finished with conversion varnish with drawers constructed of maple plywood, dovetailed and finished with clear catalysed lacquer, it is produced by a Washington state company that prides itself on traditional craftsmanship.
Peter Bristol’s designs for domestic items to date range from a stark corner-mounted wall light for Established & Sons to the visual gag that is Cut Chair, a chair that appears to be wholly unsuited to supporting the posterior of a human being whilst actually being entirely stable. What is notable about these designs is that they all share a certain aesthetic sensibility that appears to have crossed over from his designs for more overtly technological items. They are all stark, sleek – perhaps even a little clinical- and without any unnecessary decoration. However, their simple forms could be deceiving: all are made to high technical specifications using durable and versatile materials.
Save for the humour that floats almost irrepressibly to the surface in a number of his designs, one might even go as far as to say his is a domestic aesthetic firmly grounded in the tenets of good industrial design that prizes the necessary relationship between form and function above all else.