Monday, September 13, 2010

More Coverage of the Furniture Society Conference Exhibits

Belatedly, I've finally found the time to post the final reviews of the exhibits on view at the Furniture Society Conference in Cambridge, MA a few of months ago. In addition to the Jenna Goldberg, Society of Arts and Crafts, and Historical Woods exhibits I've already written about, this post covers a juried show of New England artists, Six Degrees of Separation, and a juried outdoor furniture exhibit. The next and final post covers the members exhibit and a couple of silent auction donations. I have to thank the Furniture Society for giving me a press pass for the event. Having a blog does has its advantages every now and then; and getting to the conference was a good chance to meet a number of great artists and see a broad range of work by people I was not familiar with.

This piece, Tray, by
Rich Tannen is my favorite from all the shows I saw as part of the conference. It is very minimalistic but at the same time fascinating in its technical difficulty. The form has the subtlety of being hand-made while having a fine repetitive pattern that, although appearing machine made, doesn't have the clunkiness that one would expect from a machine. It is a perfect combination man and machine to create something that appears impossible. I also like how he has taken a common piece of maple and created an extraordinary grain pattern. Because of its subtlety, I had a real hard time capturing a good image of it so check out Rich's website for better pictures here and here.
2" x 28" x 6"
Rich Tannen

James Sagui's piece, Until Next Summer, is a great piece of trompe l'oeil sculpture. I often find that trompe l'oeil work looks better in photographs then in person but this one looks better when you are in front of it. Impeccably constructed, it requires very close inspection to find evidence that it is not what it appears to be.
Until Next Season
handcarved bleached basswood
James Sagui

After looking it over a while, I finally found evidence of wood by looking inside the mug and seeing that it was turned on a lathe.
Until Next Season (close-up)
The embossing on the book was also impeccable.
Until Next Season (close-up)

I have seen images of Mario Messina's Cephlapod lamp a number of times and found it to be every bit as impressive in person, although I was struck by how much bigger it was than I imagined. It is almost 4' long and without something to scale the image, the measurements can be easily overlooked. I placed my keys on the stand to help but because of how it was placed in the exhibit, I wasn't able to take a good image. It was actually pretty disappointing that it was placed in a tight space that didn't allow me, or anyone, to get a good look at it from the side. For a better image, look here.
hickory, bamboo, uuryu paper
26" x 47" x 21"
Mario Messina

This was also the second time I've seen, and now the second time I've mentioned, Bart Niswonger's Textured Sideboard. It is a great piece so it deserves a second mention, but it is also interesting to see it next to Rich Tannen's Tray as they are both using common lumber to create extraordinary grain patterns rather than searching for lumber with extraordinary figure.
Textured Sideboard
cherry, ash, paint
Bart Niswonger

I also enjoyed seeing Thomas Shields' sculpture Support. Constructed with nine(?) found chairs, it creates an interesting contrast between the junky/rickety look of the materials and the fine craftsmanship that it took to assemble them into one piece. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any links to his work on the Internet so his background is still a mystery to me. (Update April 29, 2011 - I've learned that Tom Shields now has a website, see it here. It shows an interesting perspective on using furniture as sculptural subjects as opposed to functional objects.)
found chairs
Thomas Shields

The Conference also included an outdoor exhibit. I really enjoyed the playful/fun nature of this seemingly children's block inspired chair by Xiaoyu Bia. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more links to Xiaoyu's work on the Internet either.
Colour Blocks
Xiaoyu Bia

This Knit Hammock and Knitting Needle Stand by three artists -- Stephan Iino, Carol Sibley, and Janet Lord -- reminds me of Claes Oldenberg's work. Pretty cool. It really has the sense of having been created by giants.
Knit Hammock and Knitting Needle Stand
Stephan Iino, Carol Sibley, Janet Lord

Dave Barresi's Pivoting Garden Bench looks to be a lot of fun also. Coincidentally, Reagan Furqueron had a similarly designed piece, Coffee Table w/Boot on view at the Society of Arts and Crafts at the same time.
Pivoting Garden Bench
Dave Barresi

I also enjoyed Robert Rickard's inviting Conversation Bench. The way they lean back but are attached in the middle seem to give a sculptural interpretation of the push/pull nature of a good conversation.
Conversation Bench
Robert Rickard

And finally, these hay bail chairs, titled Lazy Hay and made by John Tagiuri, are fun but not particularly comfortable unless you are between 10 and 15 feet tall. You also end up smelling like hay after sitting in them for a few minutes. Not that I'm not complaining, someone aught to market a cologne, Eau de Hay. (warning: I'm suing anyone who manufactures it without giving me a cut of the sales.) I like his sense of humor and large scale design sense, especially as with this table an chair set.
Lazy Hay
John Tagiuri


  1. How wonderful to see these inventive new ideas come to life. Art is Alive and well!

  2. Very nice furniture. Classic and trendy combined.

  3. Thanks to sharing such magnetic art. I love to see furniture. Good job.. Keep it up.