FrontRunners: Ladder Company
No need to tread lightly on the Edward Barnsley Workshop Mark IV library ladder (www.barnsley-furniture.co.uk). It is made from 3,000-year-old bog oak that is strong enough to eliminate the need for steel supporting rods in its steps. Over the last 10 years, craftsman James Ryan has designed just 18 wooden library ladders for Edward Barnsley, a British furniture shop in rural Hampshire that has been building one-off pieces in the tradition of the Arts and Crafts movement since 1923. Ryan groups his ladder designs into four categories: Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV. Marks I and IV have steps that resemble the pages of a book. Mark IV commissions are currently available for $39,000.