The 23rd annual Philadelphia Furniture Show opened Friday with two people operating a gang saw in a traditional log-splitting ceremony, and things just got cooler from there.
All weekend, woodworkers, potters and other artisan craftspeople from around the country are showing off their most innovative work at the 23rd Street Armory between Market and Chestnut streets. According to Stefa Normantas of Green Tree Events, which owns the Furniture Show, every piece on display has a story. You’ll see a desk made of scraps from totaled cars, a table crafted out of fungi infected-maple and a couple pieces one craftsman made from material he found in dumpsters.
All of the items on display are for sale, and the artists, some of which are locally based, also do commissioned work.
Check out these 11 funky pieces we found during Friday’s preview.
David Lee Moneypenny calls this desk “Boss, I hit a tree,” because that’s apparently the story behind the particular car part it incorporates. All the pieces in his series “Crashed” work in damaged car parts he picks up from auto body shops.
Moneypenny also works with materials he find in the woods, and he alters the raw materials very little. These rock pieces were split when he found them, so he forged the metal connectors to piece them back together. The piece makes up part of his “Repairing Nature” series.
This lamp by Rachel David (center) is part of a series forged out of distorted sheet metal inspired by bones. She’s been in business since 2008 and has spent just the past couple years focused on forging metals, exploring how to mesh sculpture and functionality. Her studio, Red Metal, is based out of New Orleans. The lamp seen on the left and right replicates the petal patterns in sunflowers.
The gold leaf-covered cutouts in Peter Handler’s Maldives Table represent the Maldives Islands, which are in danger of disappearing due to rising ocean levels caused by climate change. Handler, a Germantown resident with a studio in East Falls, attributes most of the inspiration for his recent series, The Canaries in the Coal Mine, to environmental issues.
Tom Bazis is a former Temple University football player who learned how to woodwork on a Peace Corps mission to Venezuela in the late ‘60s. He describes his work as “holistic medicine” and uses with wood from around the world. The base of the piece on the left is made from an African Bubinga Tree damaged in a storm– you can actually see the marks where the wood cracked. The baubles are made of black walnut, ebony, holly and ash. Bazis’ wall hanging, right, is a virtually unaltered slab of a dead African Bubinga Tree. He calls it a “once in a lifetime wood,” pointing out images in the tree’s lines.
Add a glass top and this piece by Bazis turns into a side table. It has a cherry base, and the top — made of maple — has a pattern of dark lines from a fungus that infected the living tree. For most of his pieces, Bazis actually looks for damaged wood. He says perfect wood “doesn’t talk to you as much.”
Handler has been working primarily with a mix of aluminum and wood since 1984. The living room chair shown above is supported by upside down triangular feet inspired by stilettos.
J. Craig Robertson invented TippingChairs after a day spent with an architect. They hang flat against the wall for decoration and for easy storage, but they flip into portable seats in a fraction of a second.
This year’s showcase, which is open now through Sunday evening, collaborates with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Wharton Esherick Museum. Tickets for each day are $15 ($8 for students), and can be purchased online through the Philadelphia Furniture Show’s website.