Inspired by China, Contemporary Furnituremakers Explore Chinese Traditions

On view October 28, 2006 to March 4, 2007

Chinese design has long been a source of inspiration for European and American furnituremakers—the Chippendale style of the mid-18th century, the Aesthetic style of the late 19th century, and modernist design during the 1930s and 1940s, are some of the more well-known examples. Inspired by China, Contemporary Furnituremakers Explore Chinese Traditions brings together 29 stellar examples of historic Chinese furniture, with 28 works made specifically for the exhibition. The 21 furnituremakers who made the new works—from the United States, Canada, and China, are each recognized as leaders in the field of studio furniture. Over a three-day workshop at the Peabody Essex Museum in June 2005, they viewed the historic pieces for the first time, delving firsthand into the forms, materials, and techniques of China's rich and varied furniture traditions. They then returned to their studios to make something new inspired by their experience. The results, including an incense stand fashioned of electrical wire by Gord Peteran, a table made primarily of oak and willow twigs by Clifton Monteith, and a wooden stool reconceived in a U shape by Shao Fan, are fascinating for their dynamic range of creative responses and use of materials.