Furniture News

Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 by Russell Baldon

Kaii Tu's winning design is an embrace of dueling currents in California culture: nature and technology.

New York, N.Y. (May 19, 2012) – Wilsonart has named Kaii Tu from the California College of The Arts as the winner of its 2012 “Wilsonart Challenges...” student design competition at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Tu’s “Torrey Chair" features a fragmented geometry, rendered from multiple perspective points. Seemingly random angles of different colors of wood grain laminate are used to simultaneously sculpt and paint the form.

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Mitchell Schwarzer

Mitchell Schwarzer gives his introduction at the CCA faculty retreat

On February 4, 2012, the faculty at California College of the Arts gathered at the college's San Francisco campus for a retreat focused on the state of the arts across our many disciplines. In the morning, 25 short presentations offered insights into challenges and opportunities faced by practitioners and thinkers in recent times. The word aired most frequently was crisis: the crisis of the Great Recession; the crisis of Global Climate Change; the crisis of understanding and working within a discipline in our digital age.

Watch the video of all the presentations (91 minutes), shot and edited by Yoni Klein (Photography 2012)

The economic downturn has produced an economic squeeze within most of our disciplines. Art directors, as Alexis Mahrus remarks, have diminished roles in shaping an illustration. Smaller profit margins reduce the flexibility and time given over to experimentation. Branding and celebrity worship take up a larger slice of the creative pie. Some presenters, like Sue Redding of Industrial Design, see no problem in this conflation of art and business and, furthermore, dispute the notion of a crisis. Yet many presenters feel that the economic crisis is not only real but wielding dangerously asymmetrical impacts. Demand remains strong for high-end craft goods and blue-chip fine art. Some small nonprofits are struggling to survive. To Ignacio Valero of Critical Studies, the priority given over to luxury items can be attributed to the ongoing influence of classical economic policies that privilege individual decision making over collective social and natural needs. Likewise, Sandra Vivanco of Diversity Studies notes that economic inequalities have greatly worsened over the past few years, especially in the developing world. Contemporary society is forging a timeless, spaceless way of conducting business, a race for lucrative and short-term gains that concentrates investment more than ever in the hands of a few.

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Jim Norrena

2nd Alumination Table, 36" (h) x 23" (w) x 23" (d); cherry, aluminum, glass, 2011 (in the collection of Simon Blatner)View slideshow 

Posted at February 14, 2012: "We like San Francisco-based furniture designer Andrew Perkins's take on sustainability: 'Sustainable design is foremost about the quality and emotional longevity of the object,' he writes. '[I know] that if the idea isn't present then the object will not persist.'"

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Who Is Furniture Alumnus Andrew Perkins?

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 by Allison Byers

We like San-Francisco-based furniture designer Andrew Perkins' take on sustainability: "Sustainable design is foremost about the quality and emotional longevity of the object," he writes. "[I know] that if the idea isn't present than the object will not persist."

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Posted on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Lindsey Westbrook

Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2011
Hardcover, 168 pages, $29.95

Tanya Zimbardo (MA Curatorial Practice 2005), SFMOMA's assistant curator of media arts, coauthored this book chronicling and illustrating more than 100 SECA Award recipients from the late 1960s to the present, including CCA alumni Squeak Carnwath, Desirée Holman, Mitzi Pederson, Laurie Reid, Leslie Shows, and Kathryn VanDyke, among others. Featured faculty include Rebeca Bollinger, Kota Ezawa, Thom Faulders, Chris Finley, Donald Fortescue, Amy Franceschini, Clay Jensen, Jordan Kantor, Shaun O'Dell, Maria Porges, and Mary Snowden.

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Lisa Mishima and Yvonne Mouser turn food into art at Sam's Movie Night

From painter to pastry chef, ceramicist to wine cellar owner, innovative CCA alumni are shaping creative niches across the world of food and drink.

Twenty people stand around a long butcher-block table. The lights above cast a pale glow on its surface, illuminating the ingredients piled in its recessed trough -- lemons, lettuce, flour, eggplants, bell peppers -- without lighting the faces of the diners. They are here for Hands On, a food-making experience in which they use their hands rather than utensils to create a three-course meal.

"Cooking is very much a form of art," says Lisa Mishima (Graphic Design 2005), who concocted Hands On together with her boss, Randall Stowell of the creative production company Autofuss, and friend Yvonne Mouser (Furniture 2006). "Both cooking and art involve concepting, crafting, and presenting a piece. But there is something about consuming one's creation that feels even more personal, immediate, and honest."

Initially, the guests are nervous, even clumsy. Flour falls to the floor. Slowly, the experimental chefs grow more confident. There are giggles around the room, then nods of approval as the dishes take shape. The menu features Caesar salad, handmade pasta with pesto sauce, and tiramisu. Some diners shape vegetables into utensils and use those instead of spoons or spatulas. Maybe there will be a meal at the end of this.

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 by Chris Bliss

Film faculty member Lynn Marie Kirby with students at CAFA

What began in 2008 as a visit by CCA President Stephen Beal to the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing is now blossoming into a productive relationship between the two schools. This fall CCA enrolled six more undergraduate students from CAFA’s International Foundation Course; they join the first four students who began their studies at CCA in fall 2010.

In the first foray into faculty exchanges, David Hisaya Asari (Graphic Design) and Lynn Marie Kirby (Film) spent spring break 2011 at CAFA. An IFC instructor visited CCA in August. And Furniture faculty member Christopher Loomis is in Beijing now teaching for the semester.

What inspired this relationship between the two schools and what are the plans for the future?

Laying the Groundwork

In October 2008 President Beal was invited to participate in a forum on international art education, as part of CAFA's 90th anniversary celebration. He was impressed with the 4,000-student institution and its leaders, many of whom have ties with U.S. institutions. President Pang Gongkai was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. Vice President Xu Bing, well-known artist and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “genius” award, lived and worked in New York for more than 10 years. Dean of Design Min Wang completed his graduate work in design at Yale and worked for more than 20 years in the United States, including a stint at Adobe before forming his own firm in San Francisco.

Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 by Sarah Owens

YBCA's grand lobby

California College of the Arts and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) paired up this spring when “Production Furniture 1” students, taught and developed by Furniture Program chair Russell Baldon, created new and original furniture designs for YBCA’s grand lobby. The course is a part of ENGAGE at CCA, an interdisciplinary project-based learning initiative at the college that encourages interaction and collaboration between CCA students and community partners.

Community Building

The idea for a project-based furniture course in collaboration with YBCA stemmed from a conversation between Baldon and YBCA graphic designer crystal am-nelson. They had started a conversation at a previous YBCA event about the lack of unique, dynamic furniture in the grand lobby space. The project was born soon thereafter.

“We started with a basic problem in that we needed new furniture for our lobby,” said nelson. “And I felt that whatever we chose had to be very representative of who we truly are, which is not easy to find at a furniture store. That’s when I thought about continuing to work with local design students by co-creating a process where their work could be transformed into a real-life situation while they were still in school.

“I also was interested in experimenting with the museum as a laboratory for emerging artists and educational institutions,” nelson revealed. “It was wonderful to witness their development and excitement for the project throughout the various stages.”

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 by Simon Hodgson

Kevin Clarke in Macarthur B Arthur (art by Ben Carder and Rachel Kaye)

"When I was at CCA," says Kevin Clarke (Painting/Drawing 2005), "I'd be walking past the woodshop and people would be standing around a table engaged in a very physical, material problem, trying to figure out how to put a piece together. But then there was always interesting conceptual stuff going on, too. The work coming out of the Furniture Program combined craft and narrative in a way I related to."

Today, Clarke has achieved a true melding of CCA's "theory and practice" mantra, maintaining a woodshop in Alameda where he makes custom furniture, painting in his studio, and running the Oakland gallery MacArthur B Arthur.

Clarke made his first foray into the Bay Area arts community in 2003, when he set up Million Fishes Arts Collective midway through his CCA years. This Mission District-based organization continues to provide creative space and other opportunities to local artists. His CCA experience was invaluable in giving him confidence and connections. "Donald Fortescue, then chair of Furniture, was a mentor throughout. I still see and talk to him. Dee Hibbert-Jones, one of my first professors, inspired me to work outside the canonical medium of painting and be more experimental. I wanted more of a community, a 'soup' environment that would allow me to draw on the expertise of others. Jordan Kantor was instrumental in making me think about making. He helped me read texts, and had great recommendations on what to read after CCA."

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Samantha Braman

(This is the second of four installments describing highlights of the spring 2010 ENGAGE at CCA courses. You can also download the whole story as it appeared in Glance, CCA's college magazine.)

Community Partner Organization: Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland

CCA Faculty Leader: Russell Baldon, Furniture

Outside Expert: Justin Champaign of Coalesse

Goal: Create functional, attractive, and affordable tables for Lighthouse’s new K–12 library

Course blog: Visit the course-specific blog

Do you remember your grade-school library? Probably fondly. Do you remember the furniture? Probably not at all.

This course set out to change that, for at least a few kids, at Lighthouse Community Charter School. Furniture chair Russell Baldon had wanted to work with Lighthouse for years, knowing that its predominantly inner-city Latino students would benefit tremendously from exposure to the design world. Even before he knew about ENGAGE's impending launch, he'd already been in touch with Lighthouse's director of development and with Justin Champaign, an industrial designer at the furniture firm Coalesse, about some sort of collaboration. (Champaign is also a CCA Furniture 2007 alum.) "When I heard the rumor that ENGAGE was coming," Baldon says, "I saw this course as a natural fit."