A professional resource for the design curious

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

Form and Function

Ben Percy uses thermally-modified American ash to make seating that not only looks good, but works as well.

Form and Function


August 6th, 2013

“Functional, beautiful, sustainable and also individual” is how designer Ben Percy describes great design and these are all elements that he strives for in each piece of furniture he creates.

A design and technology graduate, Percy received an Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies Young Arts Scholarship to the prestigious Sturt School for Wood. At Sturt, Percy has been able to hone his considerable talents and develop a style that exhibits clean lines, simplicity and succinctness.

The Rocker AHEC Indesign Live

The Rocker – Ben Percy

“I’m not creating art pieces. I make beautiful handcrafted furniture that works”he says.  His careful consideration for the end use of his creations is evident and seeing his work succeed in term of both aesthetics and function gives him immense satisfaction. “Last year a lady sat in my rocking chair (The Rocker), stood up and said to me “That is the easiest chair that I have ever gotten in and out of. Ever.” She was in her eighties and had severe arthritis”.

He believes that his work comes to life when people have the opportunity to interact with it “my chairs provide an articulated seating experience” he says.

The Pod AHEC

The Pod – Ben Percy

Like many emerging designers, Ben Percy is careful in selecting sustainable species and aims for enduring quality. “As individuals we can all make a difference to minimize excessive consumption simply in the way we buy” he says. This sentiment is evident in his ‘Pod’ chair, inspired by Eero Aarnio’s iconic Fibreglass Ball Chair. Percy’s Pod is made from 256 pieces of recycled timber. Each piece individually shaped to ensure they had the required taper and draft angle to form the complex structure.

Ben Percy AHEC

Ben Percy

Percy is currently collaborating with the American Hardwood Export Council to produce a bench created from thermally modified American ash supplied by Britton Timbers in Sydney.  Thermally-modified American hardwoods are in increasing demand in Australia as they offer weather and decay resistance, making them ideal for outdoor use.  “I’m impressed with how stable it is and well it machines,” Percy says “As I am creating a bench using a solid coopered structure, I was required to split the boards several times to achieve the angles. Throughout this process the boards did not change shape at all”.


American black walnut detail

“Australia has some incredible young furniture designers who are keen to work with good quality, environmentally honest materials such as American hardwoods. We had heard of Ben through various sources and were delighted when he agreed to collaborate with ourselves and Britton Timbers on this project” said Rod Wiles, Director for AHEC Oceania.

See Ben’s American ash designs for yourself! The thermally-modified pieces will be on display at Galleria this August for Sydney Indesign.

(Hero Image: Flex Chaise – Ben Percy)

American Hardwood Export Council 


Ben Percy Designs


Sydney Indesign


Images © Muller-Maher Photography 

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed