A couple of Saturdays ago I received a call from a friend who wanted me to come by their house to meet another furniture designer that was from NC. I was in the middle of my weekly thrift store and antique store shopping so after a little convincing I left my normal routine to meet David Jones.
After a brief introduction, David showed me some of his pieces on his phone and I immediately recognized he had talent and that the visit was definitely going to be worth my while. He told me that he had just finished school. I then asked where he graduated from. I was expecting the typical answer which would be SCAD, RISD, Pratt, or maybe even Parsons or RIT. His answer was Butler High School. I little puzzled, I re-phrased my question “What College did you go to?”. I was then informed that he JUST graduated from high school and is planning on attending Virginia Commonwealth University and study Industrial Design or Fine Art this next fall.
I love surprises and this was definitely a surprise and a treat. Most great design esthetic comes from years of not only education but also experience so it is rare to stumble across a high school student’s work which is so advanced. In my opinion David’s work is as good or better than most college graduates portfolios that I have come across. David explained that he decided to focus on chair design for his AP 3D concentration.
David’s pieces are all made from recycled and found objects from garages and what he could find around the house. His concentration on this material was due to limitations rather than choice, as he explained he had little resources for materials since he was a high school student.
“Jugs” (made of 5 gallon water jugs) is my favorite piece because the structure is so simple yet the hand painted acrylic designs are so aesthetically elegantly. David plays with a contrasting black and white tree motif on the Jugs to really create a very captivating piece.
“Pipe Rocker” is another great concept which uses recycled parts from a trampoline and scrap wood. The low chair design uses simple construction methods which work to David’s advantage as the chair doesn’t feel over designed but feels like the studio crafted piece of furniture that it is.
“Styrofoam Abstract” is very reminiscent of a Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair yet the Styrofoam material and pyramid base and header make the piece a clear modern studio furniture piece. One would think that a Styrofoam chair like this would be unstable and nonfunctional, yet the pyramid base, serves not only as a decorative element but is in fact the element which gives the chair its structural stability.
One of the great advantages that David has is actually his inexperience. This is not to say that he has a case of beginners luck, but rather his lack of conventional furniture making techniques has forced him to work with the materials and find out how to best use and employ the materials. There is such an over-focus on today’s generation of furniture makers with design, that many designers work primarily with CAD programs and on paper and rarely work directly with the material. CAD and draftsmanship are great skills to possess but what one must not forget is that great design is determined by the final product, not the CAD drawings that led to the development of the piece.