The Heart of the Functional Arts
A publication of The Furniture Society, 1999. Edited by John Kelsey and Rick Mastelli
At the end of the 1990s, informed by ideas and trends in contemporary art, a new generation of studio artists is creating expressive, sophisticated furniture that rivals anything from the past. The essays, memoirs, interviews, and critiques in this book explore the North American studio furniture movement. Through the eyes and voices of makers, collectors, and scholars, this book offers diverse perspectives on this new and still evolving form of contemporary art. And with 300 color photographs, it displays the very best furniture being created today.
What is studio furniture? It's furniture that not only serves a function but also adds meaning to the interior scene. The furniture in this book was designed and made one or a few pieces at a time, by individuals and small teams of artisans working in small shops and studios. By combining modern materials with traditional ones, and by moving easily from hand skills to machine processes, today's studio furniture makers have achieved technical mastery. While studio furniture echoes no single style, it is rich in metaphors, feelings, and ideas.
How is furniture the heart of the functional arts? Like clothing, like utensils for dining, we stick closely to our furniture, sitting in chairs, working at tables, cradled in beds. Furniture comes to us as manufactured objects displaying materials, craft, style, and value. When we associate furniture with people--that's father's desk, Grandma's rocking chair--it takes on a patina of meaning and becomes the detail in the very texture of life. To this timeless equation, studio furniture brings the additional sensibilities built in by its designer and maker. This book introduces aficionados of the fine, decorative, and functional arts to the new world of studio furniture.