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Massachusetts exhibit explores the old and new

Two examples of Tom Loeser’s furniture on display at the Museum of Craft and Design.

Two examples of Tom Loeser’s furniture on display at the Museum of Craft and Design.

“Conversations in Craft: Furniture from the Trustees Collection and North Bennet Street School Artisans,” opened Nov. 18 at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Mass., and will run through Mar. 28.


The exhibit explores the stories of these historic objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, discovering the ways they were crafted, and creating new dialogues between old and new with contemporary interpretations. Through these ‘conversations’, the exhibit celebrates the rich tradition of cabinetmaking in New England that continues to this day, according to the museum.

Curated by the trustees’ senior curator Christie Jackson, this collaboration with the North Bennet Street School of Boston features newly created, original pieces of wooden furniture made by 12 select staff and alumni alongside historical pieces from the trustees collections.

“Each participant worked closely with Jackson to select a piece of historical furniture to respond to, and they will ‘answer’ in a range of ways, not with copies or reproductions, but in some cases with a contemporary companion to an 18th or 19-century object, such as a chair for a desk, or floral inlay that seems to bloom in response to bud-like inlay made in the 1820s. Each pair of objects, old and new, are displayed together,” the museum said in a statement.

Tom Loeser exhibit

A new furniture exhibition, “Tom Loeser: Please, Please, Please”, is scheduled for Jan. 30 through May 20 at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. It will feature approximately 20 mostly new furniture pieces and framed artworks.

Loeser is a furniture designer/maker from Madison, Wis., who challenges conventional designs. His longstanding investigation of unconventional, invitational furniture forms began in the early 1980’s with a series of folding chairs, colorful seats that double as wall-hung art. In more recent years, he has made chests that swivel and slide, rocking chairs for two, rotary-action benches, and many other surprising shapes, according to the museum.

“Accessible and entertaining, Loeser’s work also has a purpose that goes beyond functional: to shake up our habits, and encourage us to be playful with our environment and with one another. As he intended, the pieces create opportunities for interaction between people and objects and with each other.”


Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard, MA 01451. Tel: 978-456-3924.

Museum of Craft and Design, 2569 Third St., San Francisco, CA 94107. Tel: 415-773-0303.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue.

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