Stephen Kenn – furniture design inspired by function
Stephen Kenn is many things – a Canadian, a whisky drinker, an aesthete, an adoptive Los Angeleno, a denim fetishist – but he is first and foremost a designer of objects. He is known for his range of sofas and chairs combining a steel exostructure with heavy-duty webbing straps and cushions upholstered in military-salvage materials.
And he has recently collaborated with Victorinox to create three unique pieces: a desk-cum-draughting table, a chair-cum-stepladder, and a multifaceted closet. Doubtless they will follow in the vein of utilitarian and muscularly beautiful style he has made his own.
Using the old to create something new
A look at how a maker works
He’s interested in deconstructing as well as constructing: before moving into furniture design, he ran a denim start-up, taking apart worn pairs of jeans, distressing them further, and then rebuilding them. Later, he did the same with leather bags. And now with furniture, he creates objects that aren’t only handsome, but also tell their own story.
“I wanted to rethink the way a sofa is made, so I broke one down into its three elements – the wooden frame, the metal springs and the upholstery. Then I decided I wanted to make those more transparent, so I grabbed a friend who was a welder, drew up a frame and asked him to weld it together. We ran some belts through it and laid the cushions on it and, when I first sat on it, that was the moment I thought, “Oh, perhaps we can start doing this – we can create environments that tell stories…”
Stephen lectures about his philosophy
At this year’s Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, Steven Kenn talked about his curiosity led design approach. He shared his tips and tricks on how to channel curiosity into a business idea. Stephen also had a talk about his small house approach in our Flagshipstore in Zurich and visited Victorinox Headquarters in Ibach to see the factory and meet our CEO and his family.
An homage to Victorinox: Stephen Kenn for Victorinox
The Stepladder Chair
For design lovers who want to aim higher
The Stepladder Chair – comprised of a steel welded frame with a powder coated finish and an leather sling seat. The multi-functionality of the chair is found when it is unsnapped at the bottom of both back legs and the top backrest is tipped forward, pivoting on a hidden hinge until the backrest touches the floor. The chair can then be climbed as a ladder for reaching top shelves – or the sky.