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2019 Award of Distinction Recipient

Furni­ture Maker, Educator

The Furni­ture Society proudly announces that the recip­i­ent of its coveted 2019 Award of Distinc­tion is Tom Loeser. His award will be presented at a luncheon cere­mony on Satur­day, June 22, 2019 during the Furni­ture Society’s confer­ence in Milwau­kee, Wisconsin.

Tom Loeser

This year’s jury, (Rosanne Somer­son, Mia Hall, and Laura Mays) chaired by Wendy Maruyama – concluded in their assess­ment that they were search­ing for those indi­vid­u­als that changed the course of how the field evolved, and their nurtur­ing of younger and less expe­ri­enced makers, bring­ing them into the field through various routes.’ And to that end, the jurors have chosen Tom Loeser due to his signif­i­cant contri­bu­tions across the areas that make up the field of furni­ture design; skill and inven­tive­ness as a maker; leader in the field outside of making; educa­tor, and a thought leader through contri­bu­tions to the discourse of craft and furniture design.’

Tom Loeser’s recent solo exhi­bi­tion, Please Please Please, high­lights his long-stand­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of uncon­ven­tional, invi­ta­tional furni­ture forms begun in the early 1980s with a series of Folding Chairs, color­ful seats that double as wall-hung art. In more recent years, he has made chests that swivel and slide, rocking chairs for two, rotary-action benches, and many other surpris­ing shapes. When in use, these pieces imme­di­ately create oppor­tu­ni­ties for inter­ac­tion – not only between people and objects but between people and other people, too. Acces­si­ble and enter­tain­ing, to be sure, Loeser’s work also has a purpose: to shake up our habits, and to encour­age us to be playful with our envi­ron­ment and with one another. 

“…we should … follow the wisdom of Dr. Seuss, who observed,“adults are just obso­lete chil­dren.” It seems to me, follow­ing this logic, that the really impres­sive thing about Tom Loeser’s work is not that it gets us older folks to think differ­ently, or that it expands the formal domain of furni­ture. It certainly does do those things, but I think he’s aiming much higher. He’s actu­ally, genuinely, playing around.”

Glenn Adamson, It Could Have Been Kindling

Tom Loeser (Madison, Wiscon­sin) served as Chair of the Univer­sity of Wiscon­sin-Madison Depart­ment of Art from 2009 – 2014 and has been head of the wood/​furniture area at UW-Madison since 1991.

Loeser designs and builds one-of-a-kind func­tional and dysfunc­tional objects that are often carved and painted and always draw inspi­ra­tion from the history of design and object making.

In addi­tion to produc­ing studio furni­ture, Loeser has also worked on a number of public commis­sions and site-specific instal­la­tions includ­ing for the Madison Children’s Museum and the new down­town public library in Madison, Wisconsin.

Loeser’s work has been featured in many national and inter­na­tional exhi­bi­tions and can be found in impor­tant museum collec­tions includ­ing the Brook­lyn Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Museum of Arts and Design, Racine Art Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Smith­son­ian Amer­i­can Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Yale Univer­sity Art Gallery, among others. His solo exhi­bi­tion Please Please Please is currently trav­el­ing to three venues in Cali­for­nia and Texas. He was elected to the Amer­i­can Craft Council College of Fellows in 2012.

Click here for a PDF of the press release.

Representative work

Thank you to our contrib­u­tors for their gener­ous dona­tions to the 2019 Award of Distinc­tion: Anne and Ronald Abram­son, Andy Buck, Craft in America, Edward Cooke Jr., Karen Ernst, Annie Evelyn, David Fleming, Brian Glad­well, Andrew Glasgow, Miguel Gomez-Ibanez, Mike Hou, Katie Hudnall, Michael Hurwitz, William Keyser, Yuri Kobayashi, Adam Manley, Wendy Maruyama and Bill Schairer, Heath Matysek-Snyder, Jennifer Navva-Milliken, Craig & Linda Nutt, Pritam & Eames, Dennis Roche­leau, Maggie Sasso, Kathy & Alf Sharp, Toni Sikes, Rosanne Somer­son, Nicholas Staw­in­ski, Peter Walker, Kimberly Winkle, Bernice Wollman.