(Above: By Mick Whitcomb)
Furniture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show goes beyond most people’s imagination. In addition to the fine woodworking found throughout the Show floor, this year’s representation of fine furniture artists bends the definition of furniture beyond any reasonable expectations.
With the goal to keep design simple yet interesting, Ben Gillespie’s work bends light and wood together in his elegant wood and lighting fixtures that hover in position almost like a dance. As one of the Philadelphia based artists, Ben’s company and studio OVUUD is situated in the Port Richmond section of the city. His background combining carpentry, metalwork, and engineering provides the ideal combination of impeccable design and meticulous planning. Each hand-designed piece is graceful in its curves and aesthetic, adding both a visual and utilitarian accent to any space. Bringing a whole new flavor to what lighting and furniture design can be, Ben’s Scandinavian-inspired pieces are fabricated from local woods including Oak, Ash, Walnut, and Maple.
This is Ben’s second year at the PMA Craft Show and he likes that the Show is in Philly but also has an international reach. A woodworker his whole life, Ben says, “Wood is a pretty forgiving material and you can do a lot with it. I love the fact that you manipulate it so directly with your hands; it allows you to directly control the entire process - from inspiration and starting with a huge slab of board to putting the final touches on a sculpted piece.”
Inspired from seeing new and different architecture, Ben confesses that he would have been an architect in another life. Ben’s lighting and wood fixtures have been featured in several national magazines including World of Interiors, House & Garden, and Architectural Digest online blog. He considers his biggest achievement so far to be that he is gaining international reach with people interested in his work from around the world.
2019 will be Rachel Fuld’s sixth time exhibiting at the PMA Craft Show. Also from Philadelphia, she loves having the opportunity to exhibit her work in her hometown alongside some of the most exceptional craft artists in the country. Rachel has been building furniture for most of the last 25 years, with detours into child rearing and volunteer work with the Furniture Society. Her design inspiration comes from objects, nature, people, art, and the everyday experiences of life. Her aim is to create furniture that is clean, fun, and sophisticated.
In her own words, Rachel says, “I love the moment when I’ve pushed through the frustration of wanting to scrap a whole project, throw it out the window, and instead can see the end in sight. It happens almost every time, and invariably, the finished project was worth the effort. Sometimes a piece will form itself fully in my brain and I just need to transfer the design to paper. Other times, I have disparate elements that need to fit together and the project requires more sketching, more time, and more effort to compose the whole. I try to have each new piece of furniture address a perceived functional need and fulfill my desire to create an organized yet elegant and colorful environment.”
New to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this year, Mick Whitcomb is a Missouri based artist specializing in one-of-a-kind furniture and lighting made from architectural and industrial salvage. Excited to be among his fellow artists, Mick says, “The reputation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show instills a confidence among collectors in the caliber of artists showing their work.” Traveling the world sourcing unique materials, Mick is captivated by the machine age and early electrical lighting, A recipient of numerous awards for his work, Mick converts 19th century machines and instruments into utilitarian works of art, creating unique and functional light fixtures from obsolete machines. Mick says, “My artwork provides an amazing opportunity to seek out the most notable innovations of the 19th century. Through my conversions of those objects, I am able to bring renewed relevance from what would otherwise be obsolete innovations of the past.”
Seek out these artists and all the rest at the 43rd Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Get your tickets by clicking HERE.