Home: Natural Selections

  • William Kissel

Los Angeles furniture maker Martin Pierce finally acceded to demand this spring when he launched Martin Pierce Hardware, his collections of knobs, pulls, handles, and levers. In the mid-1990s, Pierce, a British expatriate who trained as a wood-carver, created for his then fledgling namesake furniture company an armoire to accompany his Hedgerow bed. Unable to find any door hardware that, he felt, complemented the bed—a walnut frame with an oversize headboard carved to resemble intertwining tree limbs—Pierce sketched and sculpted his own cabinet pulls in the shape of insects and then enlisted a local foundry to cast them. “I developed a five-drawer highboy with wasp pulls, where the wasps on the four lower drawers had their wings closed and the wasps on the top drawers had their wings open, as if [they were] about to fly off,” explains the 56-year-old Pierce. “A lot of people wanted to buy just the hardware, which we didn’t want to sell because it was so unique to our furniture.”

Now, however, he is selling four collections—Ergo, Hedgerow, Lizard, and Willow—in finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze and stainless steel. Each collection shows Pierce’s fondness for the great outdoors. “I wouldn’t put myself as an environmentalist, but I’m certainly in love with nature, which is where I get most of my inspiration,” he says. His designs, which range in price from about $800 to $10,000 per pair, include scurrying geckos and windblown trees. “When I started this process, I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to get a tree that grows out of a vertical surface and then grows up, so it creates a handle?’ ” Pierce recalls. “It became quite complicated because you want branches on both sides [of the pull] to create a three-dimensional shape, which is really quite difficult to cast.”

Pierce further complicates matters by making a left and right version of most of his hardware pieces. He cites as an example a set of pulls he crafted (for his forthcoming Animal collection) to resemble flying bats; each one has a wing that extends left or right depending on its intended use. Pierce says he will expand on this style next year with Ergo, a series of ergonomic handles. “I’ve made them so the finger and thumb depressions will correspond to right and left hands, which gives [the pieces] a very organic, irregular shape.” Of course, Pierce adds, “the left handle still can be opened by a right-handed person with no difficulty at all.

Martin Pierce Hardware
800.619.1521
www.martinpierce.com

Photo by Richard Prince
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