One new piece on display will be a prototype of the Cube Chair. This squat, sturdy example is made from oak. Gently curved corbels support narrow armrests. Thick cushions encased in leather barely peek over the level of the armrests. The cushions only reach up to the middle of the back, yet it is quite comfortable, although it might be a little tight if you have more than a 40-inch waist.
Cosser expressed great pride in the design: “The Cube Chair is phenomenal. It’s tremendous. It competes with Corbu,” humbly referring to world-renowned architect Le Corbusier.
The Cube Chair also features an interesting inlay. A stylized bird flies over a circle within a square, but that’s not the interesting part. To hear Cosser talk about it, he had to make like Indiana Jones to acquire the inlay materials. Rosewood, aluminum, copper and brass are just the basics. The crane’s craned neck was cut from ivory piano keys from a 19th-century Steinway.
The greenish wings are the real coup de grace, however. They were fashioned from what Cosser has dubbed “Pharaoh’s glass.” A theory holds that the intense heat of a meteor strike fused tons of Saharan sand into this naturally occurring glass. King Tut took a medallion made from the stuff to the grave, hoping to cherish it anew in the afterlife. One wonders whether splinters from the true cross or brass from Napoleon’s spyglass could be inlaid.
Even the choice of goat-skin leather was deliberate. It apparently ranks right up there with “the finest Corinthian leather” Ricardo Montalban described decades ago in a car commercial. “Prada, Louis Vuitton, does not do a purse that’s better than this leather. A woman sits in this and you want her to cross her legs,” Cosser enthused. “Put your hand in there. It’s like sex.” If desired, the cushions can be covered with hand-woven New Zealand wool.
Another show piece is a low square coffee table, its top accented by a circular design divided by a cross into four wedges. The wedges are made of thin slices of stone—a white onyx shot through with brown, cloudlike impurities. The translucent stone is lit from below by hidden LEDs. When Cosser designs his furniture, he tries to imagine how it will be used. He pictures an expensive bottle of wine, softly glowing from the inside, a bud vase with a single red rose, two long-stemmed glasses, one smeared with scarlet lip gloss, a corkscrew lying on its side. “There is a sensual feel to the piece,” said Cosser. “Not erotic, but sensuous.”
Cosser will be the first to admit that he is a master of his craft. He thinks of himself as the spiritual heir of Gustav Stickley, sharing his desire to create elegantly utilitarian furniture. The Craftsman’s logo sports a motto Stickley himself used: “Als Ik Kan,” Flemish for “to the best of my ability.” Cosser isn’t always so modest: “What I do, I do well. Not just what I do for a living but everything I do.”
The Craftsman Workshop and Studio sits behind the Sacred Melody Plaza, 110 Walter Drive. The public is invited Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 463-0262.
Hot seat: This Craftsman knockoff features an Egyptian glass inlay and Mission-like details.