Ruskin series

Created in 2008


A client had an unusually shaped antique buffet, vaguely Moorish but of unknown provenance, and asked Scott to design an island for their proposed kitchen remodel to emulate the feel of that piece, in an otherwise traditional motif. He did; they and their architect loved it, then the market crash of 2008 prevented the project from moving forward. The drawings were filed away, but over time, the images in his mind’s eye merged with his interest in the 19th century writings of John Ruskin, especially on the subject of high gothic stone architecture, and how his ideas fed what became the Arts and Crafts movement in England.

The popular revival of an Arts and Crafts style in America had been dominated by the simple lines of furniture modeled after Gustav Stickley and his contemporaries. Scott’s previous research into the history of period styles took him in a different direction. He studied Gothic inspired examples, noting their sharply chiseled profiles, steep angles and dramatic upward sweeping curves. Focused on how forms can be defined by their edges, he created a vocabulary of crisply articulated frame and molding elements, and a design language of layers. Heavy framing is modulated by edge profiles that mark transitions in delicately proportioned steps. Strong shadows reveal the depth of these layers: frames within frames, punctuated by horizontal moldings with a strong vertical emphasis.

Influenced by the character of that unusual buffet, faceted posts, gracefully curved at the base and top, take the place of turned legs or paneled columns, and are faintly evocative of rooted tree trunks. Their profiles are carried over into the shape of concave drawer fronts, with flush pulls spanning scooped finger recesses in an agreeably modern accent. Using only a few profile shapes combined at varying scale, designers can create simple cabinetry groupings rich in detail, visually cohesive because of the system’s inherent proportional relationships. A visual logic is immediately clear.

Scott developed the Ruskin series with Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry, and introduced it at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York. It quickly became Rutt’s most successful new product launch. Connecting Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, the Arts and Crafts and early Modernism, its unique flavor has shown broad appeal to designers and homeowners looking for a durable alternative to traditional style.


Scott A. Stultz


Scott Stultz

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