Checkmate: Last Ditch Design’s Sculptural Slab Bench Does Double Duty as a Chessboard

Todd Hewitt doesn't play games when it comes to crafting cool, sustainable furniture.

Consisting of just four smooth wood slabs, the asymmetrical Nostromo bench by Last Ditch Design looks as brawny as it does beautiful. No scrawny legs here: One end of the seating platform sits on a stump-like cylinder, while the other rests on a rectangular hunk. On top of the platform, another slab has been carved into a game board for chess or checkers.

“My initial thought process was to create an almost monolithic form that looks as if it could have been carved from a single tree or piece of stone,” says Last Ditch founder Todd Hewitt. He added the game board as a way of bringing together families and friends in the home, or as an ice breaker for new encounters in a hotel or café. “This style of classic activity engages users and sparks discussion,” he says.

Last Ditch Design founder Todd Hewitt sits on his Nostromo bench with the Silas floor lamp behind him
Last Ditch founder Todd Hewitt with his Nostromo bench and Silas floor lamp

Hewitt grew up in a quaint town nestled in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, collecting comic books as a kid and experimenting with drawing and printmaking as a high schooler. He went on to study graphic design at the University of Wyoming and found a night job building rustic tables and chairs from lodgepole pine. “I immediately fell in love with the tactile nature and satisfaction of crafting a piece of furniture,” he says.

This side hustle led to a 30-year career in furniture production for such manufacturers as Henrybuilt and Lawson-Fenning, first in Seattle and later in Los Angeles, where he lives and works today. “Then, in 2022, I finally felt like it was time to fully invest in myself and introduce this new collection,” which includes the Nostromo bench, Hewitt says. “For me, it was now or never — my ‘last ditch’ opportunity.” And so Last Ditch Design was born.

Close-up view of the Nostromo
Close-up of the Nostromo with the Silas lounge chair behind it

Although Hewitt works in a range of materials, including velvet, rattan and metal, wood remains central to his practice. “There is something therapeutic about woodworking,” he says. “You quickly find yourself in a frame of mind that does not allow for distractions from the outside world. You are fully immersed in the moment, 100 percent concentrating on the task at hand.”

As a lover of trees, Hewitt uses only sustainably harvested, FSC-certified lumber to craft pieces intended to last for several generations as family heirlooms. With the Nostromo, he aims to take sustainability a step further in the near future.

“My goal is to offer a version that is produced from locally harvested fallen timbers that provides the same sense of refinement but in a version that has much more of a ‘living’ appearance,” he explains. “This truly sustainable design also provides an additional layer of conversation — to be able to share the source of the materials used.”

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