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 making this table, I join the designers and makers seeking to harness manufacturing technology to expand craft rather than diminish it. The concept began with a desire to create a three-dimensional version of Japanese kumiko latticework. This led me to develop new CNC techniques for a wooden kagome basketweave that could by itself serve as load-bearing structure. The precision of CNC made it feasible to cut the table’s more than 300 unique pieces and assemble them into a rigid structure whose form reflects the flexibility and expressiveness of contemporary basketry sculpture. Though I use new methods, I hope it evokes 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 program 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 marks a full-circle transition from his 16-year engineering career in human spaceflight guidance, for which he earned degrees from MIT and Caltech.