(Above) Splinterworks’ Bronzed Vertex is made of bronzed-finished natural copper designed to develop a patina over time. Photograph by Neil Landino
Splinterworks’ sculptural slides, as fun to gaze at as they are to glide down, are decidedly ahead of the style curve.
Calling their slides “experimental and theatrical,” Miles Hartwell and Matt Withington note that it goes without saying that function is foremost.
“We love to play visual tricks, especially where balance comes into question,” Hartwell says.
Adds Withington, “Opposing dichotomies of solidity versus weightlessness, motion versus stillness and strength versus fragility are played out in all our designs, and we like to push ourselves to work with innovative materials.”
Hartwell and Withington, who met while working in a high-end furniture and kitchen company, established the U.K-based Splinterworks in 2009 and ultimately focused on luxury slides and bathroom pieces. Their deliciously sleek slides, which have been installed internationally, feature sophisticated water-cooling systems.
Sometimes the duo collaborates; other times Hartwell and Withington work solo with clients on individual ideas.
Regardless of where the idea originates, each slide starts with a sketch that leads to a 3-D model. “For every one design that makes it to fruition,” Withington says, “there’s 200 pages of those that haven’t.”
Hartwell adds that “between us, we tend to instinctively know which are worth developing.”
For an interior designer in Maryland who lives in a house designed by Bobby McAlpine, they created Bronzed Vertex, a slide that’s bronzed-finished natural copper. “We love to think of it growing in beauty alongside the rest of the garden,” Hartwell says.
Tryst, a slide that responds to the architecture of a contemporary house by Slotegraaf Construction and landscaped by Ghent Landscape, came from Withington’s sketch book.
What he calls a “wild tangle of curves,” disrupts the angular lines of the home. “Not only did it make both elements sing,” he says, “but it also invited the organic landscape into the property connecting nature and the built environment.”
The slide features a “tail” that creates a tripod shape “that enhances the sculptural integrity,” he says. “Viewing the slide from different perspectives around the grounds, you strain to work out what it is.”
Hartwell and Withington are developing a sculptural sun lounger inspired by the organic shapes of a sea life and have launched Downtime, a line of mid-priced slides that can be assembled without professional help. The collection, in curated and commissioned colors, is designed to reflect the personality of the pool owner and mirror the environment.
“We try to push the boundaries so hope our work stands the test of time, that it has an artistic autonomy that transcends trends or fashions,” Hartwell says.