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McGuire Introduces Furniture Designs By Robert Kuo | June 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (June 2007) - Adding to their successful line of copper repoussı, lacquer, and cloisonnı pieces by Robert Kuo, McGuire, world-renowned for contemporary furniture design, has introduced twelve dramatic new designs. These jewel-like objects by noted artist Robert Kuo reflect Kuo's distinctive aesthetic and McGuire's heritage of craft; they feature for the first time stools in cloisonnı and cabinet doors in carved lacquer as well as new additions in the popular cream lacquer material. Each piece is signed by the artist as it is completed.
The introductions include three sculptural cream lacquer seats, two 'cloudlike' drumstools, two magnificent cloisonnı stools, a cabinet and lamp with doors made of hand carved lacquer and a series of tables that feature silky lacquer tops on architectural wood bases.
Robert Kuo is best known as an artist who flawlessly executes innovative forms using practices and techniques that date back many centuries. His respect for, and knowledge of traditional craft methods, techniques and materials enable him to showcase a matchless aesthetic and technical innovations that he has developed throughout his long career.
In keeping with McGuire's tradition of artistry and hand-craftsmanship, these remarkable new designs by Robert Kuo shed new light on several ancient art forms including carving intricate designs into the lacquer once it has cured. These newest pieces take unexpected materials to new levels; they center on clean lines, fluid silhouettes and unmistakable forms created by exquisite artistry and ancient techniques.
"While many credit Robert for saving a number of ancient Chinese craft techniques from oblivion in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, his modesty - perhaps the one character trait that rivals his brilliance - would lead him to dismiss such accolades out-of-hand. Of course that doesn't make the attribution any less correct," says Jason Phillips - President, McGuire.
Lacquer is a highly regarded art form and has been used in China for over 6,000 years. The term 'lacquer' refers to the name of the substance as well as the technique. True organic lacquer, which is the type used in this collection, is made of translucent sap collected from trees (rhus verniciflua) that are indigenous to East Asia. No less than 60 coats of lacquer are applied in thin layers over a copper base. Part of the craftsmanship is patience; the artisan needs to wait for each layer to cure and then polish between each coat. There is additional, painstaking skill required to carve such a delicate and perfected surface into art-directed designs, like the exquisite daisy pattern that gracefully adorns the front of the Carved Lacquer Floral Cabinet and base of the Carved Lacquer Floral Lamp. The cabinet is made of Northern Elm (yumu) wood and features two doors, a drawer with copper repoussı handle and two interior shelves. The lamp rests on a metal base and comes with a Pongee silk shade.
The Cream Lacquer Qi Seat, Oval Drum, Zen Pillow Seat and Cloud Drumstools all incorporate the artistry of the lacquer technique into dramatic, contemporary forms. The Qi Seat measures 34" in diameter, and is a shapely, comfortable seat that in its rounded perfection could be mistaken for sculpture. The Oval Drum Stool at 15" high is easily used as additional seating, or a graceful, sculptural side table. The Zen Pillow Seat showcases an elegant curved top and sleek architectural lines, simple in form but complex in construction. The Cloud Drumstools are a graphic representation of floating clouds, expressly articulated in cream lacquer.
The Side, Cocktail and Console Tables all feature cream lacquer tops perched steadily on architecturally inspired wood bases. Beneath the luxuriously thick lacquer tops lie 'hidden' drawers that fit perfectly flush with the bases, providing discreet storage. The Northern Elm (yumu) woods used to make the bases are indigenous to China, and have been integral to Chinese furniture making for hundreds of years. In many cases, components are cut from reclaimed timbers that are hundreds of years old. The construction and joinery methods for this collection are those employed by furniture craftsmen of the Ming Dynasty. No nails or screws are used. The traditional joinery methods, such as mortise and tenon, enhance the craft, beauty, quality and structural integrity of each piece.
Perhaps the most dramatic pieces of the collection are the Cloisonnı Drum Stools. Robert Kuo has turned out sculptural works of art inspired by the popular lamps and chargers of the same material. The exacting technique combined with the curvature and scale of form make the Cloisonnı Hua Drum Stools (in Red Enamel or Cream Enamel) most difficult to perfect. At 22" in diameter and 17" in height, they can be used as artful accents to a room or jewel-like but functional occasional seating. This technique, cloisonnı, involves enameling on metal and dates back to the Byzantine Empire. It is an intense process of meticulous handcraftsmanship that begins with metal strips soldered in a pattern onto a copper base. The resulting compartments, called cloisons, are filled with enamel powders consisting of silica and various metal oxides used to create colors and variations in opacity. Each piece is fired in a kiln to fuse the paste into colored glass. The enamel shrinks during firing, and the process of refilling the cloisons with more enamel powder and firing must be repeated several times. The enamel surface is then ground to an even level with the top of the wires. Finally, the surface is polished and the exposed wires are plated with gold.
These twelve new designs are the result of collaboration between artist and manufacturer that began in the spring of 2001 when McGuire commissioned Kuo to design and create a special edition of furniture and lighting. In keeping with McGuire's mission to create functional art of lasting value, the artist created lighting designs in repoussı and cloisonnı. The designs, introduced to wide acclaim, are now among the company's most celebrated items.
McGuire Furniture is sold through the company's flagship showrooms in New York and San Francisco, through Baker Knapp & Tubbs Showrooms and select independent showrooms nationwide and to consumers through Baker stores. For more information, visit www.mcguirefurniture.com or call 1(800) 662-4847.
The McGuire Furniture Company
McGuire Furniture Company, together with Ann Sacks, Kallista and Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Inc., which includes Baker furniture, Baker Knapp & Tubbs Showrooms, and Baker Stores, comprises the Kohler Interiors Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohler Co.
Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler Co. is one of America's oldest and largest privately held companies. Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products, engines and power generation systems, cabinetry, tile and home furnishings, as well as the development and operation of award-winning hospitality and world-class golf destinations.