Zachary A. Bitner founded his design practice Zachary A. Design 11 years ago in Chicago, where to this day, he still produces all of his products within a large production factory alongside his 4-person team. Bitner, who received his BFA in furniture design from The Savannah College of Art and Design, has been a problem solver with a love for furniture since his early years. Following graduation, he began to collaborate with a Chicago-based, family-owned statuary with roots stretching back to the Napoleonic age. Their romantic, sometimes even eerie craft process of making statues from fiberglass molds inspired a “why not” moment for Bitner, who now applies those old world techniques to his modern designs.
Bitner is at ease not following the norm—a characteristic that he describes to be both a blessing and a curse. Whether in materials or techniques, he and his team are constantly searching for new concepts and unexpected forms, which their customers have grown to expect.
“The unexpected is a reliable source of joy for us as creators and for those who buy and use our designs,” says Bitner. “While it disrupts our routine perception, the unexpected need not be jarring or dissonant. In fact, upon reflection, it can make even more sense than the expected. It is the feeling you have when you bump into a next-door neighbor on a trip abroad, or a flower peeking through the snow. The unexpected is the spirit of ‘why not?’”
Zachary A. Design produces a wide range of furnishings for both indoor and outdoor use, including tables of all sizes and types, benches, stools, chairs, and planters. They most commonly utilize concrete, stone, glass aggregates, and fiberglass resin, though they are constantly exploring new materials.
“The material guides us to the form,” says Bitner. “We create a harmony of surface, form, and concept. We overlay our techniques with concepts and shapes that relate to what we want our customer to feel when experiencing our pieces.”
One of the brand’s strongest qualities is its ability to create complex molds—a process they have honed carefully over the years to get the results they desire. And when it comes to filling the molds with material, there is so much more than meets the eye.
“There is a real technical structure in the way we layer mold with material,” says Bitner. “I use a precise mix of resins to fill the mold in order for it to flow and spread the way I want it to. For our new Coronado Collection, I was astounded when the first one came out of the mold after years of development. I see shooting stars, falling stars, streaking rain, summer storms, landscapes, clouds, floating islands, and Japanese ink painting Sumi-e.”
While stone and concrete has been at the focus of most Zachary A. Design works since its fruition, the studio is beginning to branch out and display their playful side with more artful ideas. Under the brand’s new Studio A. division, the Coronado and Motherlode Terrazzo collections exemplify this effort perfectly.
The Coronado collection features all one-of-a-kind side tables inspired by the untouched dark and light sands of the namesake beach, while Motherlode Terrazzo is a lightweight collection created from a revolutionary method that results in fascinating surfaces and shapes typically unavailable in terrazzo. Both Coronado and Motherlode Terrazzo were set to debut at ICFF 2020.