Heralding the summer season with American aplomb and channeling the crisp, clean lines of 19th-century design with a clever undercurrent of eccentricity is Silas Marder’s outdoor furniture collection. The 14-piece collection, which originally was launched this past April, was specifically designed with the verdant (and decidedly varied) gardens that abound on the South Fork, serving as the pivotal transitive element between people’s outdoor and indoor spaces.
“It really collapses that barrier,” Mr. Marder said. “Especially out here, you want that experience — you want your garden in that way, and outdoor furniture can help make that connection.”
Forging newfound affinities, aesthetic or otherwise, is something that Mr. Marder (an alumni of Bennington College) explores and celebrates, citing his family as a huge influence in his passion for art and design — it’s something they all deeply believe in.
Amid studying just about everything under the aesthetic sun, including fine arts and film, Mr. Marder also devloped a profound interest in the family business, Marders in Bridgehampton, where, in addition to running his eponymously named gallery, he works with a slew of clients to create flora designs that run the gamut from monochromatic modernity to more wayward wildflowers. Mr. Marder says that furniture design was a natural way to couple his interests and is a continuation of his artistic evolution.
Following two years of research and prototyping, Mr. Marder decided upon plantation-grown Costa Rican teak for its environmental backstory (gleaned from forests certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council), its robust weight, and of course, its unparalleled longevity — it only looks better as it ages, growing smooth and silvery, he said.
All the pieces are hand-made by Costa Rican artisans and feature rather whimsical scaling, “stretched scaling” Mr. Marder says, bringing to mind a chic (and mad) tea party. The collection includes the Belgian long chair, a straight back chair-cum-love seat that comfortably seats two for an intimate tete-a-tete.
Mr. Marder is a particular fan of the long chair, which he says has a sophisticated European flair. “You don’t need a set with this piece, it’s wonderful as an accent,” he said. “When everything matches it gets too embellished and it’s not interesting anymore. This chair is like inviting that really interesting person to your dinner party.”
Clients can choose between the standard square legs for an utterly unique 10-sided dining table or a second option, which creates a wonderful optical confusion as the legs twist with a subtle torque that is reminiscent of cubism. “It’s really graceful and gives a certain bit of sway and movement to the table,” he says.
Other seating options include the rather formal dining chairs with hand-scrolled backs, several lattice-paneled designs in three varying heights and widths, and four different benches. Mr. Marder says the latticework (found in eight different pieces) casts wonderful shadows across the lawn and people’s bodies as well as allowing playful peeks through the gaps at the gardens beyond. While the structure of the formal dining chair is rather stripped down and straightforward, highlighting the craftsmanship of the hand-scrolling, there is also an infusion of the uncommon — the planks of the seats are sanded so roundly they look like soft upholstery.
Perhaps one of the most interesting designs in Mr. Marder’s collection, however, is a bench with a moveable headrest, one of the first furniture pieces he designed — alfresco reposers can move the headrest from one side to the other, following the sun’s movement throughout the day as they devour crosswords, the new New Yorker, or a few pitchers of lemonade. Mr. Marder said that people can also persuade their guests to gaze at a particular place in their garden by the placement of the headrest, creating a versatility that is at the forefront of all Mr. Marder’s work. Every piece is totally customizable, not only in its shape but also in its fabrics and cushions, to further compliment the particular look of a client’s garden.
The response to Mr. Marder’s furniture has been extremely positive, he said, and he’s already poised to launch new pieces next summer — prototypes are under way for two variations on a fanciful dining table, which features slender petals emanating from the center like an enormous blossom coupled with undulating legs. Pushing the boundaries with a touch of irreverence is the second version of the table, whose petaled center features only an open hole. “It’s very modern,” Mr. Marder laughs. “But what I’m really looking forward to is designing a rocking chair.”