We admire the wasp, an extraordinary designer and engineer.
Of their family, Vespidae, hornets are renowned for their skill in making the paper which is their building material. They injest leaves, bark, wood pulp…and transform it into the layers which protect the cells of their colony from the elements. According to legend, the man credited with the invention of paper in China, Cai Lun, was inspired by watching paper wasps making their nests.
Our friend Michelle Glick-Guarneri is half of the team which is MHG Studio, arguably New York City’s most talented skin restorers and fabricators. She and her partner Victor are expert in the nuances of every kind of animal skin, from shagreen to parchment. It was Michelle who first thought of making a veneer of wasps’ paper.
Since designing the Daedalus Table, we had been looking for an equally unusual natural material as feathers to incorporate in our series of Neo-Classical frames. Like the feathers, it had to be a material that would be a little different in each incarnation, that would resemble many other elements but be entirely unique at the same time, that would have the depth and richness of layers–both literally and symbolically. As soon as Michelle showed us her vespine veneer, we knew we had found what we were searching for.
Like any good colony, we set to work, each member with its task. We designed a new profile, a long-legged console table. Our fabricators cut and bent and welded it in steel. Michelle adhered one scallop of hornets’ paper after another onto a sheet of plexiglass. We applied 24-karat gold to the steel frame leaf by leaf in our studio. While we worked, we thought about the story we were telling.
We read about the wasp’s significance to different cultures. In some African societies, the wasp symbolizes evolution. A Native American myth claims the wasp as creator of the earth. This busy insect, like the bee, often represents productivity, order, fertility, continuity. We read that scientists in Tuscany have recently discovered a symbiotic relationship between wasps and wine grapes. So the wine we drink depends upon the wasp.
Dionysus, of course, is the god of grapes, the grape harvest, of wine and wine-making. He is also the god of fertility, and one of the gods who dies and is resurrected. Paper and wine represent the ingenuity of man’s engagement with the earth and its bounty, how for millennia we have, for the purpose of survival but also celebration, transformed what we find. In much the way the earth resurrects and reinvents itself.
We were beginning to own what we had only intuited, laying one association down after another as the wasps build their nest. In our designs of interiors and of furniture, we believe nothing is quite as beautiful as the combination of the organic and the made. Combining something found in nature with something made by hand seems to prove the power of metamorphosis, of reuse not as an act of thrift but one of exaltation.
Introducing the Vespine Table, available in all the profiles of our neo-classical Daedalus frames, including this long-legged console table. Steel, gold leaf, hornets’ nest, glass.
Please contact us to inquire about finishes, profiles, and dimensions.