John Procario’s Freeform series (shown) is an ever- growing line of his sculptural lamps.
A look at Procario’s design process.
Luxe. Interiors + Design
The Designer: John Procario
“I would describe my work as having a heartbeat,” says John Procario of his custom-made bent-wood luminaires. “Each one has so much personality and as you move around them, the forms look like they are changing.” It’s not surprising for Procario to anthropomorphize his work; it’s something the Cold Spring native has been doing since studying sculpture at State University of New York at Purchase, where he began to conceptually think of wood as a metaphor for the human body. “Just as we push the limits of our bones and muscles, I enjoy pushing the limits of wood to create a sense of strain in the material’s gesture,” he explains.
With, at most, only a rough sketch in his mind, Procario soaks or steams the wood then freeform bends it into one of his signature undulating shapes. The process is a delicate one, but thanks to months spent intentionally breaking wood—whether through oversteaming, a hydraulic press or simply his own strength—the designer gained a deep understanding of its structure and learned where to draw the line before hitting that breaking point. “Wood doesn’t always want to work with you when you are freeform bending so you have to work with it,” he says. “But I really enjoy that. Sometimes it takes you in new directions that would never have happened if everything was planned out.”
While Procario gravitates toward white oak, ash and walnut—all flexible domestic woods— he hopes to start incorporating exotic varieties, as well as woods that resist outdoor wear so he can branch into oversize landscape lighting. The craftsman envisions a sculpture cascading over a flower bed or integrated around a tree. “I imagine seeing these beautiful wood items back in nature, and reappropriated in this way could be really exciting.”