A local furniture maker has designed and constructed a unique chair that left international judges standing and applauding.

Jonathan Otter of Earltown, N.S., made a rocking chair that ended up on the cover of Canadian Woodworking Magazine. But his masterpiece is called Lounge Chair No. 3.

It took five months to make, using materials like black walnut, Italian leather, carbon fibre seat and faux ivory.

“On that chair there are no straight lines,” Otter says. “That is a particularly difficult piece of furniture to make.”

The chair won the jury's joker prize at the Arts and Crafts Awards in Germany, besting thousands of entries from around the world.

“This is an award that includes not just furniture but art forms of all different types, excluding the visual arts like painting,” says Otter. “So for me it's an enormous boost. It gives me a lot of confidence to keep going.”

He says working with wood is something he’s loved since childhood.

“My dad had a small shop and I had access to his tools, and I often say I learned by ruining all his hand tools,” says Otter.

Over time, Otter says he learned something else about working with wood that changed his way of thinking.

“Wood is a very sculptural material,” he says. “I’d been all along fooled by the fact that I was bringing it into my shop in long, straight pieces but it doesn't grow that way. And I began to think of the possibilities of designing more with shapes and curves.”

When most of us think of chairs, it's usually in terms of comfort, cost, and appearance. Otter hopes we can see beyond that.

“In our general psyche, furniture is a utilitarian piece to be used day-to-day. And it's not classed as art. I'm trying one piece at a time to change that,” says Otter.  

Otter will now go back to his regular job as a furniture maker, but he'll still keep some artistic ideas in his head.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.