Man of Steel
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A hardware line is a clever brand extension for architect Tom Kundig, whose buildings seemingly open up to their environments with wizardry, but in actuality unfurl via brawny, custom-designed winches, cables, and gears.
His new collection of cut-and-folded steel accessories—25 cabinet pulls, rollers, door knockers, and knobs—debuted earlier this year in a storefront space on the ground floor of Olson Kundig Architects’ headquarters in Seattle. "I felt there was a need for simple yet materially rich designs for the everyday components folks touch all the time," says Kundig. Just as his buildings are influenced by heavy-duty machinery, his hardware is rooted in Seattle’s tradition of metalworking. The area’s logging, mining, fishing, and airplane-manufacturing industries "required a highly skilled workforce who appreciated the crafting of things," he says. His smaller-scale pieces are, accordingly, "practitioner-rooted—they’re about reconnecting to the craft of architecture."
Kundig collaborated with local outfit 12th Avenue Iron to manufacture his new hardware, an arrangement that supports Seattle business and keeps costs low. The architect explains that the "simplest-looking pieces" (the Peel, Ear, and Droop Ear cabinet pulls, which range from $13 to $28) are also the most rewarding, "as they represent the collection at its most elemental." He calls the higher-priced Roll and Disc rollers ($240 to $840) a "wink and a nod" to their complex fabrication, as their edited forms are, as Kundig posits, "honest about how they are made and what they are made from."