Messages Archive

Enormous Subject *PIC*

Thomas Skaggs, Foothills of Mount Level

Not only do I have a degree in Art and Design, but I have spent 25 years studying furniture design, all the way from period design to contemporary. Yet, by no means do I feel I'm an expert. I can only say that furniture design is a really big topic!

I am glad that your friend has offered you good advice. Unfortunately, I am not in complete agreement with her. With her art background, I am surprised that she doesn't comprehend artistic/or studio furniture design. While she made some good design points, they seemed to be in the context of more traditional thinking.

If you seek artistry in design, you must be willing to express your ideas and aesthetics. Otherwise, it's not really art. Take a look at the work of Garry Knox Bennett. Given your freind's comments, I might think she would not be fond of his work. Yet, Bennett is a world known designer. In his case, he often takes his designs outside of function and creates it as pure art form. No function? Is that bad design? Not if the intention is to create art.

Look also at the work of Wharton Escherick. In his work you will see an interesting intersection of function and art. Symmetry was not always a priority. Escherick was a pioneer in "studio furniture". He did a lot of exploration of organic forms (as did Wendell Castle). The traditional furniture concepts are challenged once organic forms enter the picture.

One more designer to check out is Tommy Simpson. He is a true artist. He is now 80. Tommy's work is in museums and is sold in the highest level studio furniture galleries (NAGA, Pritam and Eames, Moderne etc.) His work is very whimsical. He is much about surface design and using furniture as a canvass for his expressions. By the way, Tommy and I are relatives. In terms of mentoring, Tommy has given me a lot of great insight into design.

None the less, successful design in furniture requires the same basic ideas as in art. Color, balance, composition, form, negative/positive space, texture and movement (eye). Sound construction goes without saying. Level of function is entirely up to the artist/craftsman.

As for me, I am 25 years into the exploration of design and I admit that I feel there is still much for me to learn. But it is a fascinating journey! I am attaching a photo of a piece I did a few years ago. I post it only for an example of my interest in pursuing art in the design of furniture.

Best of luck in your own journey!


© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.