Vision + Craft = Style
Tucker Robbins: A Quest for the Authentic
Although squarely rooted in tradition, the form and style of furniture pieces designed by Tucker Robbins have an originality and an apparent uniqueness to the Western eye precisely because the traditions from which he draws his inspiration literally span continents and centuries.
Ironically, as a former monk, he lived with almost no furniture for 10 years. An inveterate world traveler, Robbins now splits his time between designer showrooms, his New York City studio, and the various remote jungle communities where he buys his wood and often employs local craftsmen to help create his pieces. Mixing ancient tribal motifs with modern styles, he calls his mode of furniture design "modern primitivism."
Robbins makes two or three trips to different tropical jungles every year, spending several months at a time. He has trekked to Guatemala, Africa, Timor, Borneo, the Philippines, and elsewhere to acquire the raw materials of his craft. It is illegal to harvest many of the species of rare, exotic hardwoods Robbins uses in his designs. So instead, he "recycles," buying up timber — some of it over 100 years old — that has already been logged and hewn and, in many cases, put to some previous use by the peoples from whom he buys it.
Thus, boards from old houses become bedframes. Baskets made of vines are re-purposed into lamps. The roots of dead trees are carved into coffee tables, where the design itself is suggested by the wood's sinuous shape. As a craftsman, Robbins possesses skills that place him in the top echelon of designers; but his ingenuity in giving new life to old wood is unmatched.
Putting the Art Back into Artifice
Because it has been worked by hand rather than by machine, much of the wood Robbins uses has a texture all its own. Moreover, oils from human hands have conditioned the grain over the years, giving it a rich, natural patina that would be difficult if not impossible to simulate using modern finishing techniques.
But what truly makes his work stand out is the absence of the artificial symmetry — and depressing sameness — that is the hallmark of factory-made objects. His furniture pieces are beautiful precisely because they lack "perfection" in the Western sense of the word. Instead, they possess balance, wholeness, harmony, even a history. Each piece may have a utilitarian function, but it also has a story to tell and draws the eye as a work of art.
Yet his furniture is furniture that is used, and it can be seen not only in high-end showrooms but also in people's homes and places of business. Interior designers, decorators, and clients worldwide have responded enthusiastically to Robbins' vision, discovering in his pieces a naturalness and one-of-a-kind individuality that is many steps removed from the sleek, anonymous, mass-produced quality of so much modern design.
In the end, the result of his non-Western approach to furniture-making is a product that is at once comfortingly familiar and excitingly new.
ABOVE: Tucker Robbins booth at the 17th Annual
BELOW: The living room of Galerie Lakaye is filled with select Tucker Robbins pieces.
Interior designers, decorators, and clients worldwide have responded enthusiastically to Robbins' vision, discovering in his pieces a naturalness and one-of-a-kind individuality that is many steps removed from the sleek, anonymous, mass-produced quality of so much modern design.
galerie lakaye :: west hollywood, ca
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