Tactile Experience of Scottish Furniture

Aye bench, ash, by Angus Ross

The annual Scottish Furniture Makers Association (SFMA) exhibition is designed to showcase the very best of Scottish furniture design and craftsmanship.

There can be no doubt about the furniture makers’ skills – all have adhered to the SFMA’s guidelines to work to a high quality, second to none. It is therefore difficult to select highlights from the 68 makers taking part. These include the playful boat-shaped bed by Alan Dalgety, the elegant simplicity of David Samuels’ shaker chairs and the beautiful ecclesiastical doors by Pat Green.

The exhibition includes a wide range of techniques, both visible and hidden. Angus Ross’ furniture proudly displays the hand-formed joins used to make it. In contrast, Joachim King utilises his knowledge of mechanical engineering in the production of seating and lighting, creating precise fluid lines impossible for the human hand.

The furniture is almost exclusively made from wood. This makes the exhibition a tactile and sensory experience, a rare occasion in which the viewer is positively encouraged to touch the work.

A recent priority for the SFMA has been sustainability and they have been working with Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils in the last few years on the Local Wood for Local Makers Project. It is disappointing that not all makers have included the materials used in their labeling; those who have add another dimension to the viewing experience. The most outstanding use of the material is by Will Gilchrist. He is exhibiting a set of irregularly shaped drawers using eight different woods, including Australian Blackbean, Indian Rosewood, Imbula – Brazilian Walnut and Purpleheat.

Of the 68 furniture makers involved only one, Anna Nichols, is a woman. The SFMA is such an effective advocate of furniture makers in Scotland, perhaps it is time that the organisation focused on assessing and addressing this inequality.

Their website – www.scottishfurnituremakers.org.uk – has a comprehensive directory of furniture makers in Scotland, as well as guidance about the commissioning process.

Review by Francesca Baseby

See: The Art of Furniture Art The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU

5 – 21 October 2012. Open Mon to Sat 10.30am – 5pm Sun 12 – 5pm. Free

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