Every detail in Nick Barna’s furniture is thoughtful; nothing is a frill. The woodworker, who launched his Chelsea-based business in 2016, combines traditional woodworking joinery with contemporary tools and materials to create beautiful, supremely functional furniture.
Barna draws from a variety of design styles; this Cord Chair, for example, references Danish paper cord chairs but swaps in seats made from colourful military-grade parachute cord rather than the traditional tightly woven paper. He describes them as the most technically challenging pieces in his portfolio. “A chair has to be beautiful and light but comfortable and strong.”
There is whimsy: his elegant wooden boxes (dubbed HiFi Crates) elevate the humble plastic milk crate into an object of beauty. Barna’s rendition of the ubiquitous bin, often used for storing music records, offers something that will be treasured for years.
Barna’s house was among his first projects after he moved here from Baltimore 10 years ago. The simple structure incorporates passive solar design elements and boasts a refined elegance thanks to his meticulous approach to details. Outfitted with many of his creations, including the Cord Chairs, the house is a living testament to Barna’s breadth as a craftsman.
Barna says he is inspired by the way the Shaker and Japanese woodworking traditions incorporate their ethics into their craft. “I share with them the idea that honest work and the creation of well-crafted, thoughtful designs — in harmony with the lived environment and unembellished by ego — can be a kind of spiritual practice.”
— Rafia Mahli
Forget those smudgy paint handprints on a block of cheap wood; this is a family keepsake with style. Simply pick up a DIY casting kit from Flo Glassblowing, grab that perfect handprint in clay, and mail it back to the experts, who pour molten glass over the imprint to create a very personal work of art. Owner Melody Jewitt says she has seen the artworks placed on mantels and windowsills and used as book ends. The technique is also becoming increasingly popular as a way to memorialize a beloved pet. — Sarah Brown
It used to be that builders took a safe approach to decorating model homes, never trying anything too risky for fear of scaring away conservative buyers. Caivan Communities turns that idea on its head with an ensuite that is at once elegant and bold. Wallpaper on every wall? That’s a first! Custom high-gloss cabinetry and floor tiles in muted greys turn down the volume, providing a soothing counterpoint to the busy botanicals. — Sarah Brown
Embroidery with Attitude
Edgy, witty, and sometimes just a little bit snarky, this is needle art we can get behind. There are no “Home Sweet Home” motifs in the repertoire of Alexandra Charron, who says she often gets new ideas while perusing tattoo art. The embroidery artist, who sells her work through Etsy under the name SundayOnTheRun, got into stitchery as a student after picking up a DIY craft pick at Indigo Chapters. Now a registered nurse, she says she continues to embroider in her spare time “to keep my hands busy,” designing her own pieces and taking on commissions. — Sarah Brown
In the Loop
You may have seen her functional pieces around town — artist Nina Marchewka recently made a series of gorgeous mugs for Edgar restaurant, and her pretty air-plant rings are sold through Plant & Curio — but she also has a penchant for designing less practical pieces. Most recently, her work has taken a more sombre turn — earthy raku vessels that incorporate pieces of bone she has collected over the past few years. “This work looks at oneness, the circle of life, as well as our relationship with the earth as humans.”— Sarah Brown