Furniture by Annie Evelyn
Annie Evelyn received both her BFA and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Evelyn has taught at RISD, Parsons – The New School, Anderson Ranch, Penland School of Crafts, and others. In 2011 she received a Windgate Furniture residency at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Center for Turning and Furniture Design. Her work has been featured on the cover of American Craft Magazine and published in Laura Housely’s book, The Independent Design Guide. Evelyn is currently in her third year as an artist in residence at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and in 2016 was awarded The John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship.annieevelyn.com
Furniture by Annie Evelyn
We don’t often give much thought to the tactile experience of the furniture we use. We tend to place it in simple, familiar categories: hard/soft, comfortable/uncomfortable, rigid/yielding, etc. Through her exploration of novel forms of seating upholstery, Annie Evelyn looks to change that.
The first step in getting people’s attention is breaking their expectations. Annie does that immediately by using materials – like cement, river rocks, and metal scales – that are not often seen in furniture. She clearly appreciates the way that the visual interacts with the physical to shape our experience of the everyday items we use. You probably wouldn’t expect a seat made of cement, platinum, or aluminum to be yielding or to conform to the contours of your body. Likewise, her “squishy sticks” chair, with its seat made of holly sticks inlaid at different heights, appears at first glance to be intentionally uncomfortable, perhaps even a piece of display art meant only to resemble furniture. The fact that the cushion gives under the pressure of your body (or even just the pressure of your hand) defies your expectations in a way that wholly reshapes your experience.
The striking patterns and shapes and the unusual materials that comprise these chairs would make them right at home in an art gallery. But their beautiful and unusual aesthetics are only the very surface of their appeal. So much of the character of Annie’s chairs lies in the fact that they provide unexpected comfort with such apparently uncomfortable materials. In other words, only in using them can you understand them fully.
The craftsmanship that goes into making these chairs really needs to be admired as well. Take a look at her line of “Scotty” chairs, which use triangular pieces of aluminum and wood in various sizes to make up the seat cushions. It’s quite an intricate and beautiful puzzle-like design. Furthermore, the pieces need to be able to flex atop the underlying foam when you sit on them and then return to their original configuration when you get up. A lot of experimentation and adjustment of both materials and processes must have gone into perfecting this demanding task. The finished product is a triumph that deserves appreciation and recognition.
Annie’s work proves that even in a familiar and seemingly fully-explored category like furniture there is always room to push boundaries, reinvent, and reshape people’s experience. There is a real joy, liveliness, and originality to her work that is inspiring, exciting, and immediately endearing.
You can visit her website to get a closer look at her fantastic collection, find out about current or upcoming exhibitions, projects, and residencies, or contact her directly to find out about purchasing one of her amazing creations. She is a wonderfully talented designer and artist, and will certainly continue finding new ways to create bold and inspiring furniture.