If you are not familiar with WENDELL CASTLE you should definitely make it your business to be so. He is the
father of the studio furniture movement and has been designing his unique handmade furnishings for nearly 50 years. He is about to turn 80 this November 6, so there have been many events and articles written which celebrate his outstanding talent.
So that we are all on the same page, let me clarify what “studio furniture” is:
“Studio Furniture is… centered around one-of-a-kind or limited production furniture objects… made in a craftsperson’s studio setting as opposed to being made in a high volume factory… Studio furniture objects often embody creative and/or communicative intent, a unique design, elements of functionality (either implicit or explicit), craftsmanship, and an intimate understanding of material in their creation. Studio furniture objects, perhaps because of their close association with sculpture and other fine art, are shown as often in art galleries as they are in furniture showrooms.” ( Thank you, Wikipedia.)
CASTLE’S craftsmanship and and original techniques have gained him notoriety around the world as an outstanding craftsman. He is particularly renown for his whimsical organic forms, especially his brightly colored gel-coated fiberglass pieces from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. These originals can often be found in modern art exhibitions, as well as noted galleries selling 20th Century gems. Two galleries here in New York City that I am familiar with are R GALLERY and Friedman Benda.
The good news for those of us that long for one of these original beauties is that CASTLE also produces the WENDELL CASTLE COLLECTION, developed to bring his superb creations to a wider number of people interested in his work. These are produced under his design guidance and feature top level materials and commitment to the same superior design aesthetic he applies to his studio art pieces. How lucky could we designers be!
The production furniture all made at the facility in Le Roy, New York, is simply and unequivocally fabulous. It can be found at ten different showrooms here in the states, my favorite being my go-to showroom in New York City, Dennis Miller (see post), at the New York Design Center, right near my office. Lately I have been incorporating many of CASTLE’S furnishings into my projects. I just love the “added value” each piece possesses, including coming with CASTLE’S official stamp!
One of CASTLE’S most famous pieces in the collection is called The Sizzle. ( Don’t you love that name?) It is a series of oval shapes attached on one end and available in groupings of 2, 3, and 4 pods. Originally an art piece, it was later incorporated into the COLLECTION and has become one of the most popular pieces. It has been specified in innumerable combos, including an ebony Macassar top and a brown and black crackle bottom to a lime green lacquer bottom with a zebra wood top. AND each one is equally stunning.
There are so many marvelous pieces in the COLLECTION, but some of my favorites are the Cloud Dining chair, the Voiture chair, the Morocco table and the Snap table, the Palette cabinet, the Muse cabinet and the Allure cabinet. All come in a variety of finishes, and all have the indelible look of CASTLE’S sensibility and design.
HOT TIP : Friedman Benda will be having a major exhibition of CASTLE’S work after Thanksgiving, and will be publishing a Catalog Raisonne featuring more than 1000 art pieces he created over his career. R Gallery will be also be publishing a book about CASTLE, and is planning an exhibition of his major works from 1959 to 1979, which will open on October 19.
So there is lots of opportunity to partake of WENDELL CASTLE’s designs, whether on a high scale or low scale. I am definitely going to attend the two upcoming exhibitions so that I can swallow up more information about the furniture. Who knows, I might even get a chance to shake the master’s hand?
BTW: I recently wrote an article for HOUZZ.com (see post) about WENDELL CASTLE and his vintage pieces of furniture that are available at R Gallery here in NYC.
CIAO, CIAO ‘TIL NEXT TIME!