Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Design History:
Paul Evans - Cityscape Dreams

Paul Evans began in the 1950s making copper chests and followed with sculpted steel-front cabinets. The different uses of metal and sculptural forms are motifs that would persist throughout the majority of his furniture designs. Evans had a two-man show in 1961 at America House, an exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York (now named the Museum of Arts & Design, to which D.D. took me to for the first time two weeks ago). This exhibition in turn opened doors for him to become the designer for furniture manufacturer Directional Furniture in 1964. With Directional Furniture, Paul Evans introduced several series of furniture lines; such as Argente seriesSculpted Bronze series, and my personal favorite and his most refined, the Cityscape series.

The Cityscape series was released in the early 70s and is a line of furniture that speaks to me immensely. I love the reflective surface countered with the sculptural forms that convey a sense of mass so well. This combination allows for a large piece of furniture like a buffet, credenza or sofa to take up a large amount of space without fully overpowering the space. Not to mention, as all of you know by now, that I am particularly inclined to this sort of disco high glamour that each piece exudes. Again, an entire set would be overkill but a few, critically selected pieces from this series will bring back a touch of that 70s nightclub witchery to any contemporary design.

Evan's pieces were almost always signed, and all of the custom items have a signature and a date. So when searching through second hand shops and garage sales make sure and look for the signature. Paul Evans' combination of handcraft and technology anticipated the limited edition art furniture of today. The artist's relationship with Directional Furniture set a unique standard for creative manufacture by insisting every piece is made by hand, finished by hand, supervised by the artist at each step of production, one piece at a time. So even if this series looks manufactures and modern, every piece has been made entirely by hand, which adds so much to their value.

Evans is a designer that nowadays could be seen as dated and outmoded. We need to embrace these designers and learn to understand their vision and how we can relate it our current world. On the plus side, most people not up to par on their design history would consider his things to be too garish and are therefore willing to let them go for a trifle. Yay for me! So enjoy these beautiful pictures and imagine yourself sitting on the wonderful tufted couch drinking milk in an English mod home from “A Clockwork Orange” or sipping a Seven and Seven with Faye Dunaway in a penthouse apartment from “The Towering Inferno.”


tate said...


DandyDude said...

love love love those coppery club chairs!