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Toronto’s Richard Jarvis: ‘Mechanical’ Precision In Furniture


What happens when an engineer becomes a furniture maker?

Precise craftsmanship, intuitive design, and some of the most incredibly creative thinking you’ve ever seen.

Richard Jarvis is actually a mechanical engineer, and his work is informed by a foundation of engineering principles and a nearly scientific understanding of materials and construction methods. 

Jarvis’ style is self-described as somewhat minimalist, as it’s mainly focused on basic forms, clean lines, and elegant yet simple shapes. Jarvis’ work gives a nod to the works of the great modern furniture makers but with the twist of a more contemporary aesthetic.



The Willow Lamp with walnut shade is a sleek and polished minimalist design of a standing lamp, supported by three curved ‘spider’ legs which connect together at the top, and taper smoothly at the end into a fine point. To me, this lamp design is a form exaggerated from the classic three-legged mid-century lamp shape, with a fun twist.

The lampshade itself is made of thin, curved walnut veneer, diffusing the light to mostly exit through the top and bottom of the piece, rather than straight through the lampshade. There’s an immense attention to detail, such as the minimalist housing of the light fixture which is held up simply by the converging spider legs, and the power cord which is sneakily affixed within one of the legs, seamlessly hiding it.





The Chorizo Chair is yet another example of finely tuned and carefully crafted proportions, this time being thick and dense rather than thin and delicate. Constructed from white oak and wrapped in cognac vegetable-tanned leather, the Chorizo chair reminds me of a type of aboriginal construction.

Its simply shaped rustic animal leather blanketing a thick, curved oak cylinder frame, spanning from the edge of the seat downwards to the floor supports the chair and reclines the user back to a comfortable position. While the chair is carefully constructed with its purposeful joinery and details, the general structure still exhumes a large timber framing vibe; sturdy and long-lasting.



One of my favourite pieces by Jarvis is the Hall Table in walnut, comprised of a sleek solid wood body held up by four curved spider legs which taper at the bottom, similar to the Willow Lamp style. This piece is beautifully proportioned and balanced, with the solid and sturdy tabletop and drawer being held up delicately but firmly with an elegant, thin frame.



The shape of this piece reminds me of Dali’s elephants, which also balance themselves perfectly with the unique contrasting proportions. The thin and delicate legs hold up the heavy top, making it seem airy and light. Perhaps the similarity to Dali’s work, if only accidental, goes to show the true creative artistic nature of the work by Richard Jarvis.


As different as mechanical engineering and sculptural woodworking might seem, it’s utterly fascinating how much these things can have in common. Jarvis furniture is a testament to how a brilliant Canadian mind can transcend the ceiling of an industry, and transfer to a seemingly opposite, yet familiar skillset. With a creative mind, anything is possible.


For the complete portfolio of Richard Jarvis, have a look here!

And here’s the JarvisFurniture Insta!


Interested in seeing more incredible Canadian designs? Check out these articles:

The 49th North Lounge Chair Designed By Kenny Nguyen And Ian Buckley

Montreal’s The Machine, And The Nature Of Art & Design

Toronto’s Lightmaker Studio Will Brighten Your Home


*Photos courtesy of Richard Jarvis.


Researched and Written by Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University

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