Ever wonder what it would be like to tour a furniture-making studio, asking every question that came to your mind? David Savage visits twenty of the most talented furniture makers alive, and does exactly that. Reflecting on his own experiences as a furniture maker, Savage imbues the narrative with a thoughtful sensitivity.
While Savage highlights extraordinary accomplishments and techniques, he also details flaws, missteps, and mistakes, creating a well-rounded portrait of personality, inspiration, and studio culture. It's an enlightening perspective, glimpsing the personal and public challenges even the most celebrated artists must overcome.
Savage illustrates the very important role of patronage and cultivated trust between a client and artist, and he articulates the complex and interdependent relationship between these artists and their apprentices. John Makepeace's students at the Parnum Trust helped fabricate more furniture than he could have ever made on his own. And, by seeing through students' eyes, Makepeace remained critical of his own designs. Savage asks probing questions about method, motivation, and concept as well as technique and material significance. We learn not only the how, but the why of each artist's process.
Finish, material, and form are essential to conveying an idea. John Cederquist utilizes tromp l'oeil painting and collaged composition, communicating the disjointed and often myopic nature of commerce and economic aspiration. Interestingly, Savage includes Peter Danko, a designer who focuses on furniture for mass production, pushing the limits of laminated wood with the sensitivity and skill of a sculptor.
The book is loaded with beautiful photos of each furniture maker's finished work, but the real insider perspective comes from the sketches and workshop photos. We see the dust and dirt from one artist's studio and the immaculate drafting boards of another. While all of the work from these masters is fastidiously executed, we see that in the hands and minds of brilliant makers, there are many paths to create furniture that communicates intellect and élan.