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Alumni Collaborate on a New Classic

Alumni Collaborate on a New Classic

Lothar Windels, head of Furniture Design, works with Sara Ossana and Jonathan Glatt of O&G Studio to design the Sakonnet chair.

Sarah Ossana MIA 05, Lothar Windels BID 96 and Jonathan Glatt MFA 04 JM joined forces to design O&G Studio’s sturdy yet elegant Sakonnet café chair.

As head of RISD’s Furniture Design department, Associate Professor Lothar Windels BID 96 is looking forward to championing the work of current students at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), which runs from May 20–23 in New York City. But he’s also excited about sharing his latest undertaking as a furniture designer: the Sakonnet café chair, a collaboration with fellow alumni Sara Ossana MIA 05 and Jonathan Glatt MFA 04 JM of O&G Studio. The chair is on view in their booth (#563) at the ICFF and the studio founders are also co-teaching a class on spindle-back chair design at RISD this semester.

“There was a terrific synergy between my background in mass-produced contract seating and O&G’s impressive artisanship.”furniture design department head lothar windels

Unlike Windels’ typically contemporary pieces—the space-age Joseph Felt Chair, for example—the Sakonnet is inspired by classic American design, specifically the 18th-century brace-back Windsor chair. Constructed of solid ash, it features a sturdy yet compact 16-inch frame and comes in O&G’s range of elegant finishes.

“There was a terrific synergy between my background in mass-produced contract seating and O&G’s impressive artisanship,” says Windels. “We approached the project with a common goal: to create a quality, American-made chair of regionally sourced hardwood at an affordable price.”

Ossana and Glatt met as grad students at RISD, and have been designing and producing “modern heirloom pieces” in their shop in Warren, RI since 2009. “We’ve always admired Lothar’s work,” says Ossana, “and combining forces with him allowed us to create a new classic.” The Sakonnet relies on one central back spindle for visual and structural integrity, benefitting from a graceful linear form free of extraneous material or ornamentation.

The smaller size and movability of the chair—combined with its comfort and durability— makes it a good choice for restaurants and cafés. “Our expertise lies in the art of the Windsor, while Lothar is a master of contemporary seating design with extensive experience in metal and alternative materials,” notes Glatt. “We had a great time bringing our two perspectives together to create the Sakonnet.”

Simone Solondz

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