When I think about Flag Day, it gets me feeling extra patriotic. Hence, I thought this would be a great time to talk about American decorative artists/designers/craftsmen. Don’t even get me started on which is the appropriate label. Having befriended many amazing ceramists, weavers, metalworkers, woodworkers, and the like, I can tell you they aren’t sure of the answer. Let’s just all agree that these artists are extremely talented, and they are making their magic right in the heart of the United States of America.
Wendell Castle has been designing unique tables and seating for six decades. He is considered a patriarch of the American studio furniture movement and is still going strong in his Rochester, New York, studio. Castle is a genius with manipulating materials like wood, stainless steel, bronze, and fiberglass. His pieces are so interesting and beautiful, one is not sure whether they should be displayed formally as art or utilized functionally. In our home, we ultimately determined that we could sit in our Wendell Castle chair as long as we aren’t wearing rivets. What is a rivet? Ask our young sons. They can tell you all about it. At any rate, Wendell Castle’s work is widely collected throughout the world and featured in many museum collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
515 West 26th Street
New York City
Stefan Bishop is a Los Angeles–based furniture designer. He began his career working exclusively in wood but has recently branched out into bronze. I had the privilege of spending time at Stefan’s studio. He is a true artist of the purest nature. Stefan never had a long-term plan to create furniture that would become highly collectible—he simply was inspired to work with his hands to create sculpture inspired by architecture and designed utilizing special analysis. Stefan is constantly exploring the subtle details of potential materials. In his most recent foray into bronze, he continues to experiment with different types of casting and polishing techniques to accomplish unique shapes and finishes. His work ranges from totally organic to more elaborate, structured forms. All of his pieces are one- or a few-of-a-kind.
Cristina Grajales Gallery
10 Greene Street
New York City
CHARLES AND RAY EAMES
In all honesty, I didn’t get Eames in my younger years. Having lived in the Brady Bunch (rerun) era, familiarity bred contempt when it came to American mid-century modern. I mean, really, some of the stuff looked way too staged in a house designed by Mike Brady’s firm. After growing to love southern California life and simplicity, I have done a total 180. The Eames revolutionary impact on decorative arts is that they made great design available to everyone. They were the first designers to mass-produce collectible pieces on a major scale. Most well known for their seating, their pieces are a part of several major museum design collections around the world including MoMA, the Stedelijk, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. There are many reproductions out there, but you can still find originals through fine decorative arts dealers.
Multiple locations in Los Angeles