Meet the Designer: Richard Patterson’s Signature Wood FurnitureAuthor:Dara Kerr
Going back to basics, Richard Patterson’s stripped-down and elegant wood furniture has an esthetic all its own.
His one-of-a-kind chairs, benches, and tables are made with traditional wood joinery and the finished pieces are polished with natural oil to enhance the wood’s native color. We caught up with the Southern California-based woodworker to learn more about his craft.
“It’s very minimal, I shy away from extraneous elements,” Patterson says. “Function in my first concern—I want the chair to be comfortable, I want the cabinet to work. Then, I want to display some good craftsmanship.”
Patterson’s furniture is reminiscent of the Shaker craft with sturdy simplicity and decoration used only when needed as utility. For example, he inlays wood-carved butterflies to mend and stabilize any natural cracks or splits in the wood. The result gives an unexpected striking twist to the piece.
It was a Sam Maloof rocking chair that first inspired Patterson to get into woodworking while in college in the early 1970s. “I didn’t know anything about the crafts movement and I fell in love with it,” he says.
Maloof’s influence on Patterson’s work is evident, with its delicate yet sturdy heirloom quality. It can be seen in the “Music Chair,” which Patterson designed in the late 1970s for the famous violinist and conductor Issac Stern. “I thought dragging a chair and a music stand around would be cumbersome, so I combined both of them,” Patterson says.
The “Patterson Bench,” his signature design, borrows from minimal Asian esthetic. He first saw a bench like this while looking at folk art in Okinawa, Japan. Each of these asymmetrical elongated chairs is different he says, with the base often made with salvaged wood.
“It gave me the opportunity to produce something original,” he says. “It’s kind of hard to come up with original stuff in furniture, we’ve been sitting on chairs for a few thousand years.”
To see more of Patterson’s work, check out his website and the websites of the galleries where he is represented, Siglo Moderno in Los Angeles, Altered Space Gallery in Venice, and internationally by Nusa Furniture.
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