These Crazy Transforming Cabinets Use Old-School Woodworking Tricks

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Cabinets are the last place most of us would look for interesting design—but the artist Sebastian Errazuriz specialises in them. As it turns out, there’s plenty of interesting things you can do with a few slats of birch and a knowledge of super-super-precise woodworking.

Errazuriz makes “functional sculptures” that often fall more on the sculpture side of function. But he also builds furniture—in his own words, he’s “inviting people to look at one of the simplest forms of furniture design and to forget that we’re talking about furniture”—and over the past few months, he’s been uploading videos of his creations to Vimeo.

These Crazy Transforming Cabinets Use Old-School Woodworking Tricks

One featured recently on Prosthetic Knowledge and Co.Design is called Wave. Instead of flat panels of wood, its sides are made up of hundreds of birch pieces that are joined at their edges with just the right amount of flexibility, like the apex of a paper fan. When you pull one piece upward, it gives way but pulls its neighbours with it, like a long slow game of dominoes. The visual effect is magical:

Another, called Explosion, is made up of black-stained Maple slats that are all attached to each other via a complicated system of “sliding dovetails,” the kind you’d find on your own dressed but in smaller numbers. They can be pulled out, like drawers, one by one—until the cabinet itself is empty:

These Crazy Transforming Cabinets Use Old-School Woodworking Tricks

Another, called Samurai, is made up of 400 slats that are each very precisely counterweighted. If you push down on the short end of the slat, it will spring open to reveal the interior of the cabinet, like this:

These Crazy Transforming Cabinets Use Old-School Woodworking Tricks

These are one-of-a-kind pieces, but what’s really interesting about them is that they use hardware and woodworking techniques that are neither new or rare. For example Explosion uses a sliding dovetail, which Errazuriz describes as “one of cabinetmaking’s oldest tricks.” But instead of using these tricks once or twice in a piece, he uses them hundreds or thousands of times to create kinetic art.

You can check out some of the other pieces here.