The American artist Wendell Castle (1932-2018) is sometimes called the godfather of the 'art furniture movement’. If you look at his designs, you often don't know whether it's meant as a decorative art object or as a functional piece of furniture. He conquered the whole of the US with his visionary creations and you can even find his work in the collection of Design Museum Gent.
Wendell Castle was particularly successful during the 60s and 70s with its functional sculptures. With degrees in industrial design and sculpture (University of Kansas), introduced a new way to produce furniture and look at it. He opposed categorisation. Using the innovative technique of stacked laminate, he was much freer to create sculptures in wood. Castle once described his design philosophy as follows: "I want to be inventive and playful, to produce furniture that makes life an adventure.”
“I want to produce furniture that makes life an adventure.”
His formal idiom is certainly playful and is proof of the unique craftsmanship he possessed. Castle called his sculptures organic, but not only because of their suppleness and imitation of natural forms. "My vocabulary has always been organic; sometimes I think of it as actually growing from a seed or idea. My ideas actually grow into something," he said in 2017. The visionary artist died last year and to honour him, there is currently (September 5 - October 12, 2019) a solo exhibition of his work at Friedman Benda in New York.
Images: Courtesy of Friedman Benda and Wendell Castle Inc.