Cobbler

Brendan Gordon

Entryways are bivalent, posing no clean break of space and time and demanding a moment of pause. A traditional piece of utility, the cobbler’s bench is also bivalent in nature. Not simply chair or desk, bench or table, it is a fusion of two basic needs—space to work and space to sit. Cobbler honors Loll’s legacy of historical reference, re-envisioning a shoe-maker’s tool, designed for linear work and attention to the more intimate objects in life. It is an aid to a doorway’s pause.

Research

There is great uncertainty with entryways, as each threshold is a reminder of change, a reminder that something will end and begin. Many cultures have responded to this notion of uncertainty by breeding lore into rituals, valuing gatekeepers next to kings, and charging Gods and Goddesses as protectors of the entryway.

Janus, the Greco-Roman god of entryways, was invoked before prayer, as it was he who held the keys to Olympus. Janus is depicted as two-faced, regarding past and the future, indoors and out, and the confluence of equals and opposites imbued within post and lintel…those of movement and change, beginnings and endings. This play of space and time happens simultaneously, making entryways bivalent, uncertain, and even—as depicted by artists—unsettling.

In tandem with these subtle expressions, entryways are simply gates, through which bodies small and large must pass and pass muster. The relief of entering is equally important to preparing for departure, requiring a place to pause, to settle, and gather or deposit items for the journey ahead.

Inspiration

Vignelli did not invent simplicity, rather it evolved from those who placed needs before wants, labor before pleasure, and life before legacy (take the Shakers, for instance). In an era of mass consumption and industrial production, Vignelli sought a return to the simplicity of need, so we might recondition the limited imagination of possibility by removing visual debris. I am moved by Massimo’s attention to need, as much as I am captivated by simpler times and the cyclical, yet progressive nature of history.

Looking at the history and evolution of entryways, I focused on the settling of uncertainty, and sought objects that provided recognizable comfort and workability. I wanted the object to reflect the bivalent nature of the entryway, simultaneously responding to the user by accepting a user’s return and embarkation. The antiquated cobbler’s bench came to mind for a possible entryway product, at once satisfying a desire for historical reference and speaking to Loll Design’s own interest in the reincarnation of storied products. A historical piece of utility, it is not simply chair or desk, bench or table, but a fusion of two basic needs…space to work and space to sit.

Process