Modern design, to me, has always meant pushing boundaries to a certain extent, warping convention. And while a five-foot by seven-and-a-half-foot liquor cabinet in the form of a flask would seem to fit that definition pretty easily, I didn’t arrive at the concept because I was trying to do so, not primarily, at least.
The request was straightforward enough—“We want a liquor cabinet”—but the more I asked about their lifestyle, the clearer it became how much the couple enjoys entertaining and, even more, how passionate he is about mixing cocktails. The more he lit up talking about it, the more I wanted to come through with something completely original for them. Pieces of different ideas started streaming through my head. I knew I wanted to do something in a mirror-finish stainless steel. I’d been working with it a lot and loved the look, especially in the context of their home. After a while, I realized my eyes kept drifting back to a large novelty flask they had displayed. Why not? I thought.
The details fell into place pretty quickly from there. It’d be lined with transparent shelving that would be lit from below. The bottom would be wrapped, as all fine flasks are, in turned leather--four hides of it by the time it was done. They were like, “We love it!” I was like, “Holy shit!” Call it simple insecurity, but a custom furniture designer rarely expects his concepts to be so well received, especially when he’s pitching a larger-than-life flask. With their vote of confidence, I took off running. But the momentum didn’t last.
Impressive as the rendering and the dimensions appeared, I designed the flask around the capabilities of basic sheet metal work, so I knew I could do it. I just didn’t anticipate it being so time- and labor-intensive. Because the curves aren’t true circles, the body couldn’t be formed on a rolling machine. It had to be pressed in hundreds of tiny increments. That, alone, set me back about four months. But problem-solving is what I’ve always enjoyed most about crafting custom furniture. And there was no shortage of it here.
I’m getting faster, but my designs are growing more intricate. And though it may seem like there’s not a whole lot of knowledge that can be carried over from the flask to, say, the aluminum, industrial-tinged gazebo I’m working on now, seeing the flask through gave me the confidence to push my idea for the gazebo a little further. In that way, every project grows from the one before it.