Builders and carpenters work with a whole set of industrial tools we’ll never see in their end products. Powerful nail guns, scrapers, and sanders are invisible in intricate, final products. But with so many of us chasing an industrial look, why not build our furniture out of industrial tools?
That’s pretty much the philosophy of Sam Weller, who is using a bench clamp called a holdfast to build complex furniture, in a new product line that he formally calls Holdfast. I didn’t know it before today, but a holdfast is pretty neat device. Simply a piece of bent metal, when inserted into a hole, all it takes is a hammer tap to wedge it against an object as an instantaneous cantilever. (There’s a great, fun video explanation here.)
"My inspiration for Holdfast was my initial obsession with clamps and their infinite possibilities as a joining mechanism and 'tool’ outside of the workshop environment," Weller tells Co.Design. "I was particularly interested in the elegance of holdfast clamps, their simplicity and incredible strength at holding material to a work surface—I knew there was something there to exploit."
It just so happens, holdfasts are relatively easy to construct. They’re metal shaped consistently by a CNC wire bending machine. They’re also flat, so they’re easy to ship, and they inspire designs that are fundamentally modular and expandable. In other words, they’re the perfect fit for a startup furniture manufacturer that wants to market a shelving system, or any other stacking, self-supporting structure.
And for you the consumer, the benefits are just as promising. Imagine never screwing together a desk or using wood glue on particle board again, but fitting a few wires into holes to build your next shelf. "There are no fixings of any kind, just the wood and the bent wire parts, and that’s it!" Weller promises.
As of now, Weller’s Holdfast system isn’t quite on the market, and he’s only revealed one finished design for his products, the shelving unit you see here. But it will be fascinating to see if he’s able to expand the line’s purview, creating multiple, very different pieces of furniture all constructed from the same core holdfast components. Because how great would it be to never worry about replacing a stripped screw again?