As we begin to look forward to the upcoming new season, we decided to take a fresh look at the stripped down components of one of our favourite pieces – the Spring table by Sir Kenneth Grange and SmithMatthias.
A beautifully modest piece, Spring is formed from the bare minimum of parts; a simple wooden top with solid timber legs and cast aluminium metal brackets. It is these metal brackets that enable Spring to be shipped flat pack and assembled with ease. A cast aluminium lozenge, that sits flush with the chair leg and secures the bracket, adds a splash of colour.
We recently went along to the foundry to look at the processes involved in creating these components; a fiery environment, sharp with the tang of molten metal, filled with the sounds of industry and warm with the glow of the furnace. Yet the greatest warmth came from the people who take pride in this age old craft and let us take a few pictures of their work.
The brackets are crafted from aluminium, a superbly efficient material with a relatively low melting point, (less than half that of steel) excellent casting properties and an extremely high recycled content. Aluminium can be melted and cast indefinitely with no loss of quality or value which makes it the perfect material for a circular economy, any waste created can be melted and reformed into new parts.
The furnace is heated to over 660 degrees C (higher than the melting point of aluminium to allow for cooling) and aluminium ingots are melted in a crucible while the mould is heated ready to take the molten metal. Our brackets are hand crafted from start to finish by craftspeople who understand the importance of a quality product with an excellent finish.
The molten aluminium, now looking like liquid silver or the bad cop from Terminator II, is carefully hand poured from the crucible into the pre heated mould, which is compressed in a vice, and left to cool.
Once cool, the two part mould is opened to reveal the fresh casting. Any flash that has occurred along the parting line is trimmed off (flash is paper thin seepage of molted aluminium at the point where two halves of the mould meet), all leftover aluminium is gathered together and melted into pellets and ingots for later use, this is what makes aluminium such a great material, this and the fact that post consumer aluminum recycling is so well established.
Once they have been hand finished, the brackets will have a textured powder coat applied to protect them from wear and tear and any corrosion, they will be extremely robust, making the table surprisingly sturdy for its elegant silhouette.
Designers Sir Kenneth Grange and SmithMatthias always wanted the simplicity of form and economy of material to sing out in this range and for Spring to have a low energy demand, flat packing the components means that transportation can be as energy efficient as possible. Spring is crafted from timber from a sustainable source, aluminium from part of a closed loop cycle with a powder coat finish which is entirely free from volatile organic compounds making Spring ideal for environments where indoor air quality is a priority.
As the cycle of the seasons presses on, it is nice to know that Spring also arises from a closed loop, a cycle of replanting and recycling and that, despite our modern methods, its manufacture keeps an age old industry alive.