Some envision a world where all of us should find joy in owning less stuff while consumerism desires all of us to find happiness in owning one of everything. Neither view fit the world that I see before me. No one-size-fits-all solution will ever result in everyone’s joy or happiness. We are all different and we like different things. We can’t standardize the length of time a shower should take as some people have long hair while others have no hair.
Design can be prescribed like medicine as proposed by philosopher Alain De Botton to help us with our specific needs. The work-a-holic who longs for life outside the city in the wide open air doesn’t want the same living room as the philomath who has an endless thirst for learning or the second-generation immigrant who wants to better understand their roots. Birch Sandwich is a place that creates as many options as possible so that everyone can find the best design for their needs.
Design history books show that eras of the past were more elaborate in their volume of design when compared to the mass-standardized products available today that all look just the same.
Malvina Reynolds (Cover by her friend Pete Seeger)
The 20th Century was successful in creating affordable design. For furniture, ready-to-assemble was designers and manufacturers most important contribution. Birch Sandwich aims to combine the best parts of the last century, affordability, with everything else that came before such as products being made-to-last.
While studying architecture, I learned about new methods in design and making that were not limited to standardization. Old tools resemble automated stamping machines that create identical products on hard-working assembly lines. New tools are closer to household desktop printers where every page can be different. Changing ink for wood, these machines are the tools to achieve the vision above.
My first project took place on Kickstarter. I wanted to create a furniture project that was as unique as I thought a 21st century furniture design should be. This Stool Rocks was a rocking stool featuring three different options: Easy Rock, Soft Rock, and Hard Rock that had different curavatures on their underside resulting in different levels of stability. The project was successful with 500+ backers.
The name Birch Sandwich is a reference to the material that I love to work with and use most often, birch plywood. Plywood is an extremely efficient method of manufacturing trees into a workable produce design material that results in little waste. A log is unrolled like a pencil in a pencil sharperer producing long flat sheets called plys. A ply is strong in one direction and weak in the other. Plywood lays plys in alternating directions resulting in strength in both directions and stronger than solid wood of the same species. The name is partly inspired by Tom Sachs’ video on Vimeo titled “A Love Letter to Plywood,” where he describes plywood as:
Birch Sandwich is operated by James Mcbennett. James is a lifelong learner who has completed many university courses on an extremely wide range of topics. He followed his love of advanced geometry, technology, and sustainability by joining the skyscraper design office Kohn Pederson Fox in their London. He later worked in Copenhagen with Julien De Smedt Architects and in Rotterdam with the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. More recently, he enjoys working for himself designing and making products using digital fabrication tools.
New designs will be released regularly here at birchsandwich.com
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