Lehigh University
Lehigh University

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Bulletin Winter 2014

Freestyle furniture design

Furniture maker Amy Forsyth’s work combines furniture, sculpture, architecture and performance. She uses whatever means and materials will realize the initial idea. Her creations bridge the unconventional with the familiar, taking everyday objects and turning them into something unexpected.

Her latest project is a collaborative effort with an Indiana-based artist to design and build furniture for a 2014 exhibition at The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia.

As part of the center’s Bartram’s Boxes Remix (BBR), Forsyth, an associate professor of architecture in the department of art, architecture and design, is working with Katie Hudnall, an assistant professor and furniture maker at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, to build two pieces of furniture that will engage each other. The project’s title is a reference to the boxes containing seeds, plants and curiosities that John Bartram (1699-1777), an early American botanist, began sending to his colleagues in England in 1735.

Reflecting Bartram’s mail-order business, Forsyth and Hudnall began planning their furniture in 2012. Each designer sent the other drawings and small sculptural objects to inspire larger pieces. Over the course of this past spring, they met and drew what they thought these ideas might become.

For the exhibit, Forsyth built a cabinet that she describes as a “self-portrait.” The cabinet doors incorporate truss-like wooden hinges inspired by Hudnall, with doors that draw on Native American transformation masks. Inside is a table built from one of Hudnall’s drawings. Since this project is for an exhibition rather than everyday use, expressing an idea is more important than function, Forsyth says.

“I’m not interested in furniture that’s been done already, like arts and crafts. I think it’s wonderful stuff, but I approach my work as an artistic practice, so I’m always looking for something new.

“As an architect, you plan everything out and you hope someone will build it just the way you draw it. As a furniture maker, I like the fact that I am doing it myself, and I learn something about what I’m making as I go.”

Story by Rob Nichols

Posted on Tuesday, February 04, 2014

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