On the sofa with
Chan + Eayrs
Husband and wife duo Zoe and Merlin are trained architects who create individually crafted homes from scratch. Their roles as investors, creatives and craftsmen mean they retain complete, uncompromised creative freedom with each project.
Wallpaper* Handmade is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Salone dei Tessuti in Milan this month with an exhibition entitled X: With Love. Chan & Eayrs were commissioned to design the centrepiece of the exhibition – a vibrant, pink circular bar made of American red oak – in collaboration with furniture designer Sebastian Cox and the American Hardwood Export Council.
What inspired the distinctive colour of the ‘Blushing Bar’?
We interpreted X as both ‘10’, for Wallpaper* Handmade’s 10th anniversary, but also a kiss for love, hence the name and colour of the bar. Love makes one blush, and the heart pound; increasing blood circulation through the body through our veins.
Why did you choose American red oak?
Red oak has a pinkish flesh-like hue, and a porous nature which has capillaries or ‘veins’ that are so open that you can blow through a short section. These wood veins have been pumped through with deep pink dye by Sebastian Cox, like blood-filled veins through love-struck flesh.
How did you come up with the design?
The bar is a place of connection, a focal point for coming together. It feels very personal, much like the projects we tend to take on. There’s something of the theatre inherent in a bar, and this ring shape accentuates that, with the staff in the middle, and customers clustered around. It’s a shape that also speaks of welcoming, the maternal, and love, which in turn connects to the ‘blushing’ concept.
It is composed of 10 modules that connect to form a curved, sculptural circle – each module has been designed to perform a different function. There’s a chopping and preparation area, a storage unit for bottles, even a sink in water-resistant, thermo-treated red oak, further highlighting the versatility of the timber. Each section was set for two weeks in specially designed jigs, which were as much things of beauty as the finished bar itself.
Red oak is one of the most prolific American hardwoods, and inherently one of the most sustainable. How important is sustainability in your work?
We design as responsibly as possible and use as much renewable, natural raw material as possible. We also try to celebrate these materials, expressing them to let them shine through and detailing them in interesting ways. It’s about making sustainability appeal through beauty. I think having a child has brought it home to us even more and made us really re-evaluate our products and priorities.
You only make one home at a time and live on site to understand the context, light and volumes of spaces. What are you working now and what’s next?
We’re currently working on our house in Hampstead. Built by Palladian architect Henry Flitcroft in the 18th century, the house had been lived in and largely untouched for the past 50 years by the sculptor Anthony Caro. This special site, which we plan to be our forever home, will be a delicate balancing act of a heritage restoration and our own sensitive contemporary insertions. We have already undertaken a year and a half of in-depth research, study and feeling out the space by living in it. We will submit for planning soon. Since working on Wallpaper Handmade it has made us re-evaluate the material choice and we want to do something very interesting in wood.
We’re also more and more conscious of designing and living more sustainably and are exploring the design and creation of an off-grid house in St Ives, Cornwall with a workshop and art studio where we will get away to focus on creating, making, and growing. We like to grow with each of our projects, and this one will be an in-depth thesis into living completely at one with the elements both aesthetically and performatively.
Visit The Blushing Bar at Salone dei Tessuti, Via San Gregorio 29, 20124 Milan.
Opening hours areTuesday, 9 April: 12 – 4pm, andWednesday 10th– Saturday 13thApril: 10am – 6pm.