Award-winning furniture and lighting designer Chris Lehrecke hones in on the details with a new line of cabinet pulls for E.R. Butler & Co., the manufacturer and purveyor of high-end historically accurate and decorative hardware.
The twelve designs are on view in the custom-made display cases of E.R. Butler & Co.’s 30-foot-long Soho storefront. Lehrecke’s popular pedestal stools, in contrasting hardwoods of dark walnut and pale white oak, and his new spun aluminum lamps provide the perfect backdrop for the jewel-sized pulls and echo the primitive yet modern shapes.
The exhibit – Chris Lehrecke: Furniture, Lighting & Hardware– will be on view through March 31, but the pulls will stay on as part of E.R.Butler & Co.’s incomparable stock of fine hardware.
Proprietor Rhett Butler, who encouraged Lehrecke to create the collection, curated the display along with the designer. “While they seem like a fairly simple collection of shapes for cabinet knobs, they’re really quite new,” says Butler. “There is little in the world of hardware that addresses the primitive influence.”
One of the main sources of inspiration for the line came from Lehrecke’s own collection of African furniture and objects, which he has put together with his wife, Gabriella Kiss, over a 20-year period. “Although there is a crudeness to these indigenous pieces, the shapes are so beautiful and the materials so simple, that it was a clear starting point for me.” More contemporary influences include Brancusi, Noguchi, Kiss and jewelry designer, Ted Muehling. “I admire people who work in humble but serious ways and who work really closely with production – people who care about how things are made and not just the conceptual part of design.”
Lehrecke has created hardware for his furniture in the past but in limited quantities and forms; E.R. Butler & Co.’s production facilities in Red Hook, Brooklyn, make executing more challenging designs possible. “As a designer you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You want to take from the past and make it unique to the present.” E.R. Butler & Co. turned Lehrecke’s sketches into three-dimensional renderings that could be read by state-of-the-art CNC and five-axis machines. “It’s the juxtaposition of the primitive shapes and the cutting-edge precision of the technology that makes this project unique,” claims Butler. The pieces are then turned from solid brass rods and finished by hand. The twelve distinctive shapes are all available with convex, concave, or flat tops; a subtle detail that changes the refraction of light. Stocked finishes include a satin hand-pumiced nickel plate and an oxidized ebony patina that wears gently over time. Like all E.R. Butler & Co. hardware, the knobs may also be special ordered in other finishes.
The pedestal stools in the display are further evidence of Lehrecke’s penchant for the primitive, as well as his respect for nature. Two large, drum-shaped pedestals are crafted from a walnut tree that was scarred by a lightning strike. “This is the kind of thing that makes the raw material unuseable, but it also makes it more interesting.” The wet logs are turned on an industrial lathe – a process of discovery in which the wood dictates the design. His entire collection is made exclusively from a wide variety of salvaged woods from the mid-Hudson Valley: walnut, cherry, maple, ash and white oak, as well as lesser known varieties like catalpa, mulberry, black locust and butternut.
Spun aluminum lamps are the most recent manifestation of Lehrecke’s primitive shapes. Pendant versions illuminate the E.R. Butler & Co. showroom cases to stunning effect. The interior of the lamps are powder coated in a grayish white which reflects the light and the exterior and diffusers are leafed in dark bronze or silver.
Working with E.R. Butler & Co. has been a eye-opening experience for the hands-on designer. “I’ve been working with these kinds of shapes for years, but this project makes me see them differently. It’s a luxury to have all the variations in form, size and finish.”
Lehrecke’s furniture is available exclusively through:
Ralph Pucci International
44 West 18th Street
Penthouse and 9th floor
New York, NY 10011
Tel 212 633 0452
Los Angeles Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 900069
Tel 310 360 9707