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ICFF 2012: Plank by Eric Pfeiffer and Council

Oakland-based designer Eric Pfeiffer has been exhibiting annually at ICFF since 1997 and this year he's launching a series of outdoor pieces in collaboration with San Francisco's Council. According to Pfeiffer, the line is a take on the classic Adirondack chairs and owes some debt to mid-century design; however, it's distinctly contemporary in its restrained, minimalist features—qualities we love here at Dwell. The pieces are manufactured right here in the United States, and feature a new type of engineered wood. We sent a few questions to Pfeiffer to find out more about the collaboration, design, and material. Here's what he has to say.

Plank Collection by Eric Pfeiffer Best Outdoor ICFF 2012
The Plank lounge by Eric Pfeiffer and Council.

Can you tell me about the line you're releasing at ICFF?
It is an outdoor collection we developed with Council using a new material called Perennial Wood. Our approach was to create a collection minimal in form and utilitarian in material use. The construction reflects the design intent with a simple curve resting on a powder coated steel rod base.
How did you come to collaborate with Council?
I have known Derek [Chen] for many years because the San Francisco design community is pretty small (and we see each other out in the water surfing). As I learned more about Perennial Wood—a new material from Eastman—I thought it might be of interest to Council because of the wood's performance characteristics and the fact it is U.S.-grown and produced. We began our collaboration around an outdoor collection using the material, which fit nicely into Council's mission of creating pieces that will be recognizably American, yet appeal to an international audience.
What was the design inspiration?
I was inspired by California architecture from the mid-century and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle they offer. Adirondack chairs and the floating decks around my neighborhood in the Oakland Hills also played a factor in our initial thinking around the collection. The unique properties of Perennial Wood allowed us to further explore the connection between indoors and outdoors because the aesthetic properties of Southern pine are familiar inside the home, yet not traditionally available for outdoor use.

The line includes a stacking version and an armchair (shown here). After the product is introduced, Pfeiffer plans to experiment with different material finished and colors.
The line includes a stacking version and an armchair (shown here). After the product is introduced, Pfeiffer plans to experiment with different material finished and colors.

Can you tell me more about the material? Why did you opt for engineered vs. traditional wood?
It is a beautiful, humble material that provides unique aesthetic and performance characteristics not currently available for the outdoor market, competing with hardwoods and rivaling teak in performance. The manufacturer, Eastman Chemical Company, uses a proprietary process to permanently transform the wood’s cell structure, creating a physical barrier throughout the board that resists damage from the many forces outdoor furniture can experience.
How "green" is the material?
We were impressed by the sustainability story behind this wood and the fact that it is grown and produced here in the U.S. from Southern pine—a renewable resource. Perennial Wood is modified with heat, pressure and an organic compound that leaves no toxic substances in the wood. It lasts longer than unmodified woods and therefore needs to be replaced less often. This dovetails nicely into our desire to create products for the next generation to enjoy.

See the line in person at booth #1708 at this year's ICFF.

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