meet the makers | Mar 7, 2024 |
This artist takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to hand-carved furniture
This artist takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to hand-carved furniture
Caleb Ferris with his Close Encounters mirror at Alcova Miami Paul Barbera

Caleb Ferris finds creative fuel in the dusty corners of life. The New York artist draws inspiration from the inconspicuous details that surround us when crafting his one-of-a-kind pieces. “My mission is straightforward,” he tells Business of Home. “I want to infuse a playful spirit into the world of design, while breaking away from trends and popular conventions.”

Growing up in Oklahoma City, Ferris was constantly experimenting with various artistic mediums. He attended a visual and performing arts high school before enrolling at the Pratt Institute in New York to pursue a degree in industrial design. “Art has been an integral part of my life since childhood, as my way of perceiving and interacting with the world,” he says. “Pratt, in particular, introduced me to the world of product design, and more specifically, how to design for clients across different aesthetics.”

After college, he moved to Oakland, California, where he formally launched his studio in 2021. The following year, he debuted his inaugural collection, Al Dente, at WantedDesign with an assortment of hand-carved maple furnishings inspired by different types of pasta, including the sinuous Lasagna side table and spiral-legged Cavatappi coffee table. “Every piece I create has a distinct personality,” says the furniture artist.

This artist takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to hand-carved furniture
Ferris’s Pop Star cabinet at Alcova’s “Uncharted” exhibit for Design MiamiPaul Barbera

An avid collector of oddball objects, Ferris keeps a growing library of unique items he uses for inspiration. His design process begins with a rough model (usually based on a found piece in his collection) that he fashions from wood and hot glue and refines over time. “I consider a design complete when the form emotes an attitude,” he says.

The bulk of his work is forged from hand-carved wood, sometimes combined with elements produced by a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. Fabricating a specific design can take up to 10 weeks, with a significant portion of the process devoted solely to sanding and finishing. “Each piece is finished by hand, and no two are alike,” says Ferris. “I like this method because the somewhat weathered finishes contrast with the machinelike curves of my work.”

This artist takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to hand-carved furniture
The Noodle Throne Damien Maloney

Though form drives his work, Ferris says the interplay between artistry and functionality is evident in each piece. Last May, he won the coveted ICFF Editors Award for his delightfully ruffled yet totally utilitarian Noodle Throne. “My goal is to visually connect with the viewer,” he explains. “However, function plays a role when it comes to the size and structural integrity of a design.”

In December, he showcased three celestial designs at Alcova’s “Uncharted” exhibit for Design Miami, including a star-shaped Baltic birchwood cabinet called Pop Star and a spaceship-esque mirror named Close Encounters. “Compared to my previous collection, this curation of work draws inspiration from everyday objects in a more abstract, less literal way,” says the artist.

Looking ahead, Ferris, who just relocated his studio to Brooklyn, plans to build a fresh line of furnishings while building a name for himself in the city. “Beyond the allure of bigger shows and a larger client base, my core aspiration is to continue living a life immersed in the creation of art,” he says. “Expanding product offerings remains integral to my vision—I am driven by the infinite possibilities that art and design provide.”

If you want to learn more about Caleb Ferris, visit his website or Instagram.

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