Stephen Thrasher

’22 Furniture Design

To pause and experience a well-crafted object creates a little bubble, an oasis in the midst of hurry, a sense that not all of life is rushed and disposable. As we struggle with how the technology we create to improve our lives in turn shapes us by unintended forces, it can seem like the manufacturing and automation that make abundance possible also make our lives more artificial and pressured. In my work, I seek to harness manufacturing technology to expand craft rather than diminish it.

The table takes its construction from the ancient craft of coopering, the making of barrels and other wooden containers. The term coopering has been borrowed into furniture-making to mean edge gluing beveled pieces of wood, called staves, to form a curved panel. Parametric design, where shaping is accomplished by algorithmic processes, makes it possible to create staves for a complex form, here a hyperboloid of one sheet. Computer Numerical Control (CNC), which uses computers to control robotic machine tools, makes it possible to cut each stave with the needed twist.

Though I use new methods, I hope I evoke the same warmth and satisfaction made possible through traditional techniques.

Stephen Thrasher is a furniture maker in Somerville, MA. He completed MassArt’s Furniture Design Certificate in 2022. His path through the craft started with traditional methods and moved toward digital design and CNC, exploring the parametric design of sculptural furniture and design for small-scale production. This comes full circle from his 16-year engineering career in human spaceflight guidance, for which he earned degrees from MIT and Caltech.