This past week while in NY for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) I had the great pleasure of visiting Todd Merrill Antiques on Bleacker street in New York. Todd Merrill is one of the foremost experts on studio made furniture in the United States between the 1950s to the 1980s. He is also the author of andldquo;Modern Americanaandrdquo; which gives biographies and descriptions of many of the great studio furniture makers including J. B. Blunk, Wharten Escerick, Paul Evans, Philip Lloyd Powell, and Tommi Parzinger.
Modern Americanaandrdquo; has become my favorite book in my library due to its dedication to many furniture designers and makers who have never been given proper literary recognition. It is the only book that goes into great detail into the brutalist work of Paul Evans, my favorite studio furniture designer.
Mr. Merrill was very generous in spending about 20 minutes discussing the studio work in his store as well as discussing my own furniture designs. I especially enjoyed getting to see the work of Paul Evans in person and seeing both the outside and inside of his wall mounted case furniture pieces. Todd Merrill gave me great advise regarding my own career as he described the rise and demise of Evans as he soon overworked himself, became an alcoholic and passed away on his first day of retirement while sitting on a bench in a park. He cautioned me in my own career to stay creative and to find out what designs generate the most attention and sales and always develop these designs even further. He also suggested coming out with limited edition furniture piece which would be in ten to twenty piece editions (which I am actually currently designing for my fall 2010 line).
I immediately began writing down some of the names of books in the expansive furniture book library in the basement of his store for further research into my own furniture knowledge. I was immediately cautioned however to not become tainted by the past work of furniture designers but rather develop my own style and conceptual furniture ideas. There were many highlights to my trip to New York from debuting my own furniture line, to several Partyandrsquo;s including a Party at The Todd Hase Furniture Gallery, an opening reception at the MOMA, and another Party at Sicis hosted by New York Spaces Magazine. However the visit to the Todd Merrill Gallery definitely was a last minute icing on the cake to my New York trip.