Posted January 26, 2015
John Strauss of John Strauss Furniture in Canton
This is the third post in a series about 'Living With Art', the exhibition I designed and guest-curated for the Akron Art Museum that opens on Thursday, February 5, 2015. In this post you'll meet the local furniture designers I collaborated with to turn the gallery and lobby into living spaces.
When I was in the dreaming portion of work on the exhibition, I was determined to design this space using only locally-made furniture and lighting if I could. As you may know, at Hazel Tree Interiors, I take this approach whenever possible when I am designing spaces. Sourcing locally is as much an environmental choice as it is a continued mission to make connections that support our local economy and shine the spotlight on local artists and makers.
Enter John Strauss and Kevin Busta.....
I have known and worked with these two amazingly-talented furniture designers for a few years now. They are two of my go-to makers when I am seeking interesting, beautiful, well-made, custom pieces for an interior design project. We have also sold their furniture and lighting in our gallery over at Hazel Tree. So when the time came to design this space and furnish it to match my vision, I knew they were the ones. John brings a mastery of wood-working, and Kevin brings a mastery of metal-working. Together, I knew their styles woud be perfect complements to each other and would be stunning in my design.
Let's start with John...he's the fella in the photo above. John owns a company called John Strauss Furniture Design.
I first met John years ago down in North Carolina of all places...when I came across his showroom at High Point Furniture Market. I go to Market every so often to look for new Made-in-the-US companies to support my design projects, and when I saw his furniture, I just loved his style. When we got to talking we made the connection that we were city neighbors. Ever since, I have loved being able to sell John's work to my clients and on the showroom floor.
One of the coolest things about John and his work in the world is that he not only makes beautiful furniture right down the road from us, but he is also a connector in the national furniture industry.
John has worked hard over the last five years or so to convince other national furniture companies, that have been outsourcing their furniture oversees, to consider using Amish furniture makers right here in Northern Ohio instead.
Over time, John has formed realtionships with a few different furniture makers in Holmes County. At this time, they can now not only support making John's intricate designs for his larger-scale markets, but they can also support making furniture for various other national furniture companies.
Kevin Busta owns Kevin Busta Industrial Furnishings in Cleveland. Kevin and I met a few years ago as well and I was an instant fan of his work. LOVED it.
Just like Susan, a current design client of mine, said when I showed her photos of Kevin's work, "I love everything he has ever made!"
Indeed. Me too.
Kevin's design sensibilities, his instincts on scale and function, and with his talent with selecting materials and finishes, made him the perfect furniture maker to bring the metal elements I wanted in the exhibition.
So those are my two collaborators on 'Living With Art'! And I couldn't be more pleased they wanted to do this with me. They are such great guys, in addition to being amazing talents!
Telling the story
I am very fortunate to have Chris Miller and his crew from akronist.com follow us along the journey as we prepared for the exhibition. The Akronist is creating a mini-documentary on 'Living With Art', and it will be on view in the lobby outside of the exhibition, as well as on akronist.com.
That last photo down there is of Chris Miller and me, on our trip up to see Kevin in Cleveland.
If you haven't ever checked out akronist.com or the Akron Digital Media Center, please give the links a click. Akronist.com is a wonderful local resource and ADMC is very cool commmunity journalism program.
I am so very grateful to have had Chris along for the ride to capture the journey to 'Living With Art'!
The exhibition 'Living With Art' opens on February 5, 2015, and runs until April 5, 2015. The museum will hold an opening reception from 6-9pm on Thursday, February 5 from 6-9pm. Please join us for the opening reception next Thursday! For the facebook event link for the museum reception, click here.
Kevin Busta of Kevin Busta Industrial Furnishings
John Strauss filming his interview portion for the mini-documentary about the exhibition
Kevin Busta showing me the progression of the game table he is making for the exhibition
Chris Miller of Akron Digital Media Center and me, Karen Starr! I took this seflie when we traveled up to Cleveland together to get some footage of Kevin Busta.