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FALL HOME DESIGN | So SoCal / Furniture

Finishing School

October 04, 1998|BARBARA THORNBURG

Elizabeth Paige Smith grew up on the Cayman Islands and recalls turning rags and other found objects into sofas and chairs for her Barbie dolls. Nearly two decades later, she's designing simple geometric furniture from balsa, plywood and Italian poplar coated with a milky synthetic resin, plus a few pieces made of corrugated cardboard or two-toned katalox wood. Smith's latest collection was inspired by core materials in the aerospace industry--in particular, epoxy-finished balsa used as aircraft floor panels. "But I wanted to diffuse the grain and encapsulate the wood to create a softer, lighter look," Smith says. "The resin creates the effect of looking through an old glass window." An avid surfer, she notes that the way she finishes her wood pieces is also similar to applying resin to a balsa surfboard. "My furniture is so encapsulated that it could probably float."

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