Introducing your two new favorite furniture artists in:
The ART of Furniture
Some think of furniture as a purely functional and made to be used in everyday life. While that is true, why can’t furniture be seen as an art? In some cutting-edge art circles of the 21st century, furniture is most certainly considered an art form. Two designers that are renowned for their artistry are Marc Fish and Ingrid Donat.
Furniture of the last century is considered old-fashioned, and the designs tired. Hans Wegner, Paul McCobb, T. H. Robsjohn Gibbings, although cutting-edge nearly 75 years ago are now dated and most were factory produced for the masses, not created as an art form in limited production. In both Modernist furniture and architecture of the 20th century, the leading design principle was “form follows function”, meaning that the function of an object should take precedence over its form.
As we enter the era of 21st Century design, the furniture is not only creative, cutting-edge, and gravity-defying, but the creativity and execution also dwarf the design of the last century. Rather than mass produced, more valuable pieces are executed in very limited numbers. In design of the 21st century, it is clear that function follows form.
Two designers that stand out are Ingrid Donat and Marc Fish. I would like to introduce you to these two fantastic artists and designers that are an inspiration to all who love and appreciate furniture as an art form.
Is it sculpture or furniture, and how was it made?
UK based artist Marc Fish begs us to consider these questions. The artist is internationally known for creating impossible shapes out of natural beauty and transforming wood furniture into art.
To do so, he applies techniques that are original and forward, building upon the strong traditions of European furniture making (in which he was trained), and carrying them forward into the 21st century, without ever losing the commitment to craftsmanship, fine materials, and aesthetics.
Marc Fish’s unique sculptural chaise lounge is hand-carved from American black walnut. This work, made with cold carving techniques, showcases Fish’s incredible mastery of today’s most refined practices in micro stack-lamination.
Fish apprenticed with some of Britain’s most esteemed woodworkers, and has extensive training in metal production. He has received two distinctions from the UK’s City & Guild for furniture-making, another for computer-aided design, and has been awarded four prestigious guild marks by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. In 2011 he won the Claxton Stevens Prize, the organizations highest award.
The One Piece Chair is part of the One Piece series, in which Fish explores the positive and negative space that a single piece of wood can occupy. The chair is made from nearly 180 pieces of oak, manipulated into this organic shape, hand-carved, and sanded until smooth. Bronze and squid ink dye are used to create the exquisite textures and colors that follow the chair’s curves.
Born into a family of artists, Ingrid Donat grew up between Sweden and Paris. It was in Paris where her artistic career flourished, first as a student of sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts, and later through a meeting with Sylva Bernt, who instructed her in the arts of construction, casting, engraving, painting, and sculpture. She was also greatly influenced by Diego Giacometti (who in the 1980’s advised Donat about her sculptural furniture pieces), as well as by Egon Schiele and Germaine Richier.
Donat currently stands as one of the most influential living artists in Decorative Arts. Her sculptured bronze furniture pieces exist as a symbiosis between the sophistication of Art Deco against the force of Tribal Art. Her creations take a painterly approach to the weighty medium of bronze.
“For me, furniture has to be discrete above all, and elegant [as well as functional]. When you step into a room you don’t want it to “flash” the eye and draw attention [away from art],” she says as she points to a Basquiat painting and various African masks on display. “That is not to say that furniture should melt into the background.” -INGRID DONAT
It was Donat’s frustration in finding unique furnishings – and a bit of encouragement from her good friends Diego and Alberto Giacometti – that first brought her to creating her own furniture. Since then, tribal and Art Deco influences have remained integral to her work; Pierre Legrain and Armand Albert Rateau are constant sources of inspiration.
Donat not only designs her pieces, she also decorates the parchment, casts the bronze, and works every aspect of these chests, as she does with every very limited edition piece she creates.
Furniture is art, and these great artists are creating art we can not only live with, but can use, enjoy, and appreciate for generations to come; they truly are works of art.