Biographical Information / Artist Statement
I started making furniture while a graduate student in Computer Science. It was a way to maintain a connection with my family: my father is a professor of printmaking and a painter and my sister is a ceramic sculptor, so I grew up thinking about design and aesthetics and using my hands to build things. Slowly I realized that while the complex systems I was designing in school were intellectually fascinating, I was more deeply satisfied building a complicated piece of furniture. So I took my master’s degree and left to pursue making a living designing and building furniture.
I had the good fortune to meet Carl Schlerman, who had a cabinetry business but was thinking about designing and building furniture. We spent three years collaborating, both learning a great deal. He left to pursue his own furniture interests at the end of 2006, just as we began to receive awards and commissions for new work. The awards have been extremely gratifying, and the commissions have allowed me to set up my own shop.
Being on my own has allowed me to focus on why I design and build furniture. At the most basic level, I enjoy creating objects that invite strong reactions, forcing people to confront their expectations of what furniture should be. Strong colors and unusual textures are exciting, particularly when incorporated into unexpectedly traditional forms. That excitement draws people to the work, inviting them to touch it.
At the same time, I do not want my furniture to be overpowering. With the right design, a bright, textured piece can feel equally at home in a farmhouse decorated with antiques as in a modern New York loft. One essential aspect of such a design is for the surface and form to be in balance. Kristina Madsen’s spectacular furniture is an example of this. Her forms do not simply display fantastic carving, nor is her carving supplementing her graceful forms: her forms and carving are in balance.
Recently I have been thinking of my own work in terms of balance and tension. In a traditional form dyed bright red, the form is in tension with the surface. The piece will work only if the form and surface are in balance. The more tension I can introduce, the harder it is to balance the components, but the more energy the piece has.
For example, as a landscape painting is a mediated view of the landscape manipulated according to the artist’s eye, my furniture is a mediated form of wood and thereby nature. And like the landscape in that painting, the wood is still recognizable as wood, however foreign it may feel. I take a natural medium, wood, and force an unnatural structure on it by making rigid three dimensional geometric forms. I further impose geometry on the surface with texture or paint; I shift the color with dyes; I accentuate the grain by sandblasting or filling. My aim is to strike a balance between the natural, familiar material, and the unnatural, foreign appearance. The tension engendered by holding these opposites in balance is exciting.
owner . designer . builder
Awards ReceivedJohn D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship
I am very honored to have received the 2011 John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship. This fellowship is sponsored by the John D. Mineck Foundation and administered by The Society of Arts and Crafts. It aims to "encourage and support young-in-career furniture artists with the financial assistance to help them succeed in their journey." For me this means help acquiring a few key pieces of machinery, and repairing a few others, and gaining some experience both with very traditional hand tools and very modern computer controlled equipment.
The Mineck Fellowship is an opportunity for me to reinforce, reinvent and revitalize my foundation as an artist. This new foundation will allow me to go places I cannot yet go. It will allow me to transition to a new phase in my development as a furniture maker and an artist.
I am very grateful to the John D. Mineck Foundation and The Society of Arts and Crafts for their confidence in me and extremely honored to have received this award.Best in Show, Furniture, Single Piece Contemporary
2008-10-25I am honored to receive this award once again from the Fine Furnishings Show!Best of Media, Furniture
2007-03-29Studio Cochineal is honored to have its work selected as the best furniture at CRAFTBOSTON 2007.Best in Show, Furniture, Single Piece Contemporary
2006-10-26Studio Cochineal is very proud to have had their striped cabinet selected as the best contemporary piece at the Fine Furnishings Providence Show.