2014-15   //   Eastern hard maple, aluminum, brass.


Ark Rocker was conceived during my residency at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop.

Ark is made by hand and made by machine. The seat and backrest are sculpted by hand for ergonomics, while the rest of the design is executed with precision 3D modeling and digital fabrication machinery. This creates a piece with bespoke sensuality, and a mechanical assembly that allows it to be taken apart.

In a private collection.


Ark is a study in balance between digital and tactile processes. Powerful fabrication technology at Pier 9 was balanced with my own desire to be physically engaged in a traditional design process. The chair is held together with aluminum brackets that allow the chair to break apart and pack flat, and inset aluminum flanges support the cantilevered seat. Yet, the rocking chair still has the sensual touch points typical of a handmade heirloom object.

The design began with hand-sculpted quarter-scale models that were 3D captured, made full size digitally, and then CNC machined at full size for further shaping by hand. This tactile design workflow was integrated with digital processes where ideas usually exist only in a computer before they are finished and realized as a physical product. By using 3D capturing, Meshmixer, NetFabb, MeshEnabler, Autodesk Inventor and HSM Works, I was able to integrate organic, handmade contours with geometric joints. All aesthetic, sensual design moved through the physical world, shaped by hand. The computer was only used for reproduction and precise joinery.

I cut all the final maple parts on a DMS 5-axis CNC router and finished by hand. The aluminum bits were designed in Autodesk Inventor. I machined the brackets on a Haas CNC lathe and mill, and cut the flanges with the OMAX waterjet cutter.

The process is at Instructables.