An App State student takes furniture design to a new level with poplar bark wood shingles - rear













Student: Cary Cook, Appalachian State University’s Industrial Design

Professor: Kern Maass, Associate Dean, College of Fine & Applied Arts Project Name: “Embark”


  • to combine elegance and function
  • to remind the users of the beauty of nature -their sacred moments enjoyed there
  • to reflect what we connect to as humans and how we might transcend our pain

“The rarity and rawness of the panel is what is so special about this product. It is pristine and yet very natural. I became obsessed with the stuff; it is easy to work with, great looking, and extremely unique. What was hard for me was making myself paint, sand, and cut up the bark while making the chair. I felt like I was sanding away a part of myself. I had grown to love the untouched look it had before finishing it.”

Design and manufacturing:

  • process was very extensive
  • drew over 100 iterations of forms
  • deeply contemplated the materials and the process required gut feeling for bark panel was affirmed by Instructor and Designer Kern Maass


  • wanted it to relate to people both globally and locally
  • nature is both intimate and calm, but also vast and expansive
  • simple functional form with deeper meaning
  • throughout history and across different cultures, nature has been viewed as a healer

Everything Had To Be Perfect this project was a big investment When I discovered the Bark House motto: Beautiful, Outside and Within, which is ironically very similar to my chair’s concept statement, it gave me great confidence and assurance of quality. I fully stand behind this wonderful project and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

On a personal level, it reminds me of being in the woods with my grandfather.  The essence for me today is as if I am sitting down with him and resting in the deep forest.

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