Why I designed the Ashton Chairs…..
Necessity is the Mother of Invention….and necessity on a number of levels is the reason I designed the Ashton Chairs. The design satisfied my needs as a designer and satisfies a need of the market. It also speaks to how we can bring manufacturing back from Asia.
Making furniture is extremely competitive. Our small shop competes with large factories here in America. We also compete with factories in Asia that can produce an entire chair and ship it to the USA for less than I can buy wood for.
I love designing and making furniture, especially chairs. I want to make museum quality furniture in my small shop. I want my designs to be elegant, comfortable, sturdy and practical. Every detail just so. I want my work to be affordable, not just to the wealthy. Further, I want my designs to make a REAL statement about sustainability: not just the same old thing but with “green” ingredients. I want to use materials where you can pretty much guess they are optimized for resource conservation, or that they came from a post industrial waste stream. I want my chairs to look like their owner made a lifestyle choice for sustainability.
Everyone talks about bringing jobs and manufacturing back from Asia. But how can you compete with sources that make chairs cheaper than I can buy materials? A beauty of the Ashton design is that it combines what pundits term HIGH TECH and HIGH TOUCH. To begin, in my small shop, I make my own high grade plywood, using FSC veneer. For the HIGH TECH part, 90% of Ashton chair parts can be cut with a CNC machine in one operation. There is not much scrap after cutting. The machine cuts the sides, cross braces, corner blocks, mortises and other details depending on the version. The Ashton design eliminates the need for many machines, operations, labor, routing, jigging and planning necessary for ordinary designs. For the HIGH TOUCH part, the chair is assembled, carefully sanded by hand, and inspected. The frame gets 4 coats of no VOC waterborne finishes. For the seat and backrest, we basket weave remnant (post industrial) seat belt material. The customer chooses belt colors from the many choices that are available. We use proprietary tools specifically designed for cutting and belting. So the beauty of the Ashton Design is not only a perfectly proportioned, highly durable and comfortable chair, it is a chair that allows American workers to compete with low cost imports.