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The Halcyon Project combines history and futuristic themes in sustainable furniture design

This Blog was contributed in part by noted Broward County Journalist, David Schwartz, and generously underwritten by the Broward County Commission and the Broward Cultural Division

The 'Halcyon Tables' Project enlisted award-winning Dillard School for the Arts students from the 2016 public magnet Advanced Placement (AP) Visual Arts program to create decorative organic elements (marquetry) for a series of sustainable furniture.

After completing a classroom opportunity with Second Generation Highwaymen Artist

Kelvin Hair in February, Clare Vickery of Grace Arts Center began a new project with

Furniture and Landscape Designer, Philip Cannata to design a series of tables.

Vickery met with Visual Arts AP program Instructor, Celestin Joseph, to identify

students to design precision marquetry for sustainable corrugated material tables. Cannata and Vickery modified a previous design of two interlocking geometric pieces to create a table base that can hold <60lbs of weight inspired by the natural environment. Each table's decorative finish from natural chalk paint that mimics wood grain when applied to corrugated surfaces, references historical,

environmental and cultural aspects unique to Broward County.

Several corrugated furniture designs (table, chair and stand) were displayed at

#AtHomeWithArt exhibit at the Broward County Convention Center, as part of the

October 2015 'Home Design and Remodeling Show'.

All seven of the Halcyon Table series were previewed April 30, 2016 at ArtsUP Concepts

space in the Flagler Arts and Technology Village, also in Fort Lauderdale.

The yellow sculptural backdrop seen in the photos is made of corrugated plastic

material curated on the ceiling and cascading to the floor by Artist, Jamey Grimes.

For the Dillard High students, the three dimensional design project was the first time they worked with leaves, branches and other materials found in nature to create veneers that were 'polished,' could withstand time and daily use. Each student was given the task of creating an 'inlay' design that represented a historic, environmental or cultural aspect unique to Broward County. “It’s always great to learn something new and try different things,” said Mariana Espinosa, 18, a junior who moved to Fort Lauderdale from Mexico two years ago. “It’s modern and including the natural resources of Florida makes it interesting too.” Darius Smith, 17, also a junior from Fort Lauderdale, has long had a passion for design. “I love the details,” he said. “The longer [a project] takes, the more of a story it tells. It’s like

a piece of you coming out.” Four inlays representing South Florida history and future were completed and carefully applied as a type of marquetry to the table surface; 'pumice black' table finish

is volcanic themed evoking Broward's geological past as part of the world-wide land mass submerged to its present just-above-sea-level Florida Platform of limestone; 'aqua blue'

finish highlights a rich red hand-crafted paper background with palm leaves and bamboo 'seeds' representing the fertile landscapes and tropical gardens; a 'chevron' fashioned from palm leaves is a form found in many mid-century modern designs in the 'sand colored' table representing features found in architecture along pristine

beaches; a 'rustic' wood finish; a whimsical 'wrap' of watery circles and an 'everglades' green finish of 'rain' drops all made from hand-crafted

papers selected by the creative team.

Clare Vickery developed the non-profit Grace Arts Center (GAC) in 2011 to create and implement experimental projects where experienced artists could collaborate with student or emerging “creatives” on viable products and services for the public.

GAC submitted the Creative Investment Program idea with the intention of working in several local gallery and studio spaces to create a series of sustainable smaller household items with design elements evoking Broward’s Centennial history and pioneer leaders, Vickery said. Environmental aspects would also be found in the sustainable design itself and decorative details, she added. The project began as a concept in 2015 out of connections and successful work with various interior designers in other regions using collectibles and other artifacts sold to them since the opening of the original gallery storefront in 2005.

The two-story gallery and studio space drew designers because of international artists who used reclaimed objects successfully for their artwork, including Miami- based Outsider Artist, Purvis Young. The gallery also sold antiques and collectibles. Designers would invest in objects, paintings, antique furniture or sculpture to create new home décor items for interior renovations and photo shoots for various design magazines. "We noticed an interest in 'repurposed,' 'deconstructed,' as well as 'sustainable' creations. This interest has grown into more than just a trend. It has become a 'must have' in household decorating programs," she said. Clare Vickery met designer Philip Cannata at 'MakersSquare' in September 2015, right about the time the CIP project was funded. MakersSquare opened in 2011 in central

Fort Lauderdale just north of Sunrise Boulevard and is on hiatus since February 2016. Vickery and Cannata began to work out of studios near the Warsaw Coffee Shop on 13th Street and met with the students - and their parents - in a “workspace” room and in Flagler Arts Village in a small shop known as Village Vintage Co. From Cannata’s patented construction design for corrugated cardboard furniture they developed an easy to create and install base table of two interlocking geometric pieces. They dubbed the design “Halcyon Table” and began to market the project to local artists and general public. “The obvious reason for using cardboard is it’s inexpensive, plentiful and easy to cut,” Vickery said. “Because corrugated is a recycled wood fiber product, the Halcyon table addresses issues of sustainability in design. Creating strength and durability was critical to the design of the table unit. “Phil is a designer and

curiosity ‘seeker’ so his designs vary from simple mid- century modern to collage-

surfaces experimentation with surface finishes and mixed media,” Vickery said. “He is an avid ‘naturalist’ in his attention to detail of materials and treatments making sure there is no unsustainable elements as much as possible in the creation and installation of the table parts and veneers.” Cannata’s background in landscape design and his graduate course work in engineering and architecture at Harvard University’s Landscape Architecture program informed the table’s construction. He has worked full-time as a landscape designer, artist, and furniture designer, since his 1994 graduation from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Cannata worked out of studio space in Boston’s Fort Point Arts District until 2003, when he moved to the Fort Lauderdale area to pursue new challenges in landscape design. “The success of the Halcyon Table and other designs rely on building sales from a local base, perfecting the design and also growing cross –collaborative relationships with other artists and designers to inform them of our work and integrate our creations with their design programs,” Vickery said. There are corrugated furniture items available in the market but Vickery and Cannata noted concerns about its durability and waterproof qualities, dealing with these perceptions by creating a very small end table that can withstand typical table weight of up to 55 pounds. The tables are waterproofed for indoor/enclosed porch areas. The majority of similar art in this field uses processes such as folding a cardboard blank into usable shapes, creating an aesthetic that while ingenious, may create items interpreted as temporary or disposable. “What we are trying to do, is introduce long-lasting, well-crafted and finished pieces that can translate into a new American classic.” “We hope that with the simple design that we will be able to introduce the base tables and some of the veneer options to various local stores and to sell the items on line in late 2016 at a series of design venues,” Vickery said.

Purchase your Halcyon T(able) and thank you:)

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