Wood is a vibrant living individualistic entity in the masterful hands and enormous heart of Nakashima, embodying the very soul of the tree that is its source. Regarded as a father of the American Crafts Movement, the MIT-trained architect learned traditional Japanese carpentry while forcibly interred during World War II with other Americans of Japanese descent, mastering the use of traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques, learning to approach woodworking with discipline, honesty and patience. After settling in New Hope, Pennsylvania in 1943, he began producing an astonishing body of studio-made furniture both modernist and traditional, hand crafted designs that display his poetic empathy and understanding of his chosen material combined with his profound skills as an engineer and sculptor.
David Ellsworth (born 1944)
A master studio woodturner and artist who creates hollow form vessels of incredible scale, daring, depth and technical virtuosity. Drawing from his early training in ceramics, his breathtaking, often monumental thin-walled vessels seek to explore complex inner volumes of space while simultaneously expressing external form and complexity of surface. For the artist this internal/external dialogue is a commentary on the "ultimate vessel": a human being. Fissures, cracks and variegations found in wood are not regarded as imperfections, but authentic, truthful and poetic aspects to be acknowledged and celebrated; manifestations that profoundly illuminate the timeless power and beauty of wood while also holding up a mirror to the human soul.
Finn Juhl (1912 – 1989)
"A chair is not just the product of decorative art in space ; it is a form and a space in itself," the great Danish designer Finn Juhl once said. And true to this ethos, his prolific and distinguished output contains many groundbreaking examples that stand as works of functional art in their organic, sinuous and sculptural virtuosity. Trained as an architect, he remained throughout his life a keen student of art and drew influence from many of his international artist contemporaries - notably Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and the surrealists Jean Arp and Joan Miro. Juhl's early form-driven furniture contained exciting fluid organic elements that were a radical departure from the more linear and square-edged aesthetic of traditional Danish design. His designs could also incorporate bold color and sensuous inlays of precious metals. With his seminal Chieftain Chair, introduced at the Copenhagen Cabinet Makers Guild in 1949, he created (in conjunction with master cabinet maker Niels Vodder) an astonishing and virtuosic design that drew inspiration from tribal art and featured an architectural exposed carved frame supporting separated floating back and seat elements, as well as floating armrests that seem to hover like projecting clouds. In 1951 he received an important commission from Baker Furniture in the United States that was instrumental in opening up the Danish market abroad by bringing beautiful, impeccably designed mass-produced furniture of high standard to a wide and receptive audience.
Guido Gambone (1909 – 1969)
A highly important and influential Italian ceramic artist, creating avant-garde work of great originality and delightful expressiveness. As creative director for several Italian potteries, he was at the forefront of the modernist ceramics movement in Italy before founding his own workshop in Florence in the 1950s.His highly graphic, organic and asymmetrical forms and sculpture invoked ancient and rustic pottery while remaining always fearlessly modern. Gambone covered his work with rich lavalike and crackled glazes of great depth and complexity (incorporating sand and glass in their composition), in palettes ranging from grounded earth tones to vibrant primaries.
Jens Harald Quistgaard (1919 – 2008)
Quistgaard was an artist and a silversmith who evolved into the most prolific designer of fine Danish tabletop goods and objects of the last century. Primarily known for his work with his company Dansk, he designed and produced over his long life more than 4000 utilitarian products that are united by their fluid sculptural forms and superb craftmanship, produced in an astonishingly wide range of both fine and common materials. He gained early renown for his Fjord flatware, the first cutlery set that combined stainless steel with handles of teak, produced the same year he won the Lunning Prize and a gold medal at the Milan Triennial (1954). The level of care, detail and deep quality Quistgaard imparted into large-production work (which enjoyed a widespread global distribution) was revolutionary for its time and remains unsurpassed to this day.
Hans J Wegner (1914 - 2007)
Hans J. Wegner approached the challenges of furniture design with the soul of a poet deeply rooted in the ancient and profound craft of wood working. In an unparalleled career spanning seven decades,Wegner's astonishing oeuvre embodied his lifelong quest to unify the finest cabinet making with his deep well of honest and beautifully lyrical humanistic designs. Drawing from influences as wide ranging as Classical China and Shaker design, his furniture always emanates a profound understanding, love and mastery of wood, and a keen appreciation of function and quality. Beginning in the 1940s, Wegnerforged an important collaboration with esteemed Copenhagen cabinet maker Johannes Hansen, a partnership that led to the creation of a body of work that was and is shockingly modern and forward-looking while also remaining deeply rooted in the finest tenets of traditional Danish cabinet making.
Carl Aubock (1900 - 1957)
Aubock's designs in furniture, lighting and desktop objects represent a sublime marriage of art, craftmanship and functionality, embodying the highest ideals of Austrian Modernism. After apprenticing in his father's metal arts workshop in Vienna, he studied at the Weimar Bauhaus before returning to take over the family atelier in the 1920s, while also actively pursuing a successful painting career. He soon began to produce sublime handmade sculptural and functional objects, stripped of excess adornment and using natural and noble materials such as horn, bone, cane and bridle leather, as well as free-edge wood and found objects like stones. But brass was Aubock's material of preference, showcasing his mastery by crafting patinated and polished pieces whose beauty and character simply improve and deepen with the passage of time.