Images by Christa Holka.
Q: What do you get when a photographer, graphic designer, and maker builds bespoke pieces of free-standing furniture?
A: Carolin Reichert, 2017 Richard Seager Annual Arts Award winner.
This spring, Carolin endured a thorough interviewing process and stood out among other candidates as the best fit for the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award, an opportunity for students and emerging creatives to produce an innovative piece of free-standing furniture that stores sheet music and musical accessories. Trained in the fine arts with a background in photography and graphic design, Carolin’s craft follows natural, sculptural forms. She creates long-lasting pieces inspired by tradition and influenced by innovative, bespoke concepts and techniques. Her naturally collaborative mind and multidisciplinary background are, in fact, what won her this award in the first place—not only do her works inspire others, but Carolin herself is always, always open to inspiration. We can’t wait to see what she creates for the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award!
Photo: Christa Holka
LAB: What draws you to woodworking and fine furniture making? In your mind, what’s the difference between Fine Furniture Making and Plain Ol’ Furniture Making?
CR: Being able to create something with your hands from beginning to end is very rewarding.
I love working with wood for its individual character, its workability, and warmth. Fine Furniture Making focusses on creating unique pieces to the highest level of quality – this can apply to a single bespoke furniture piece or in a small edition.
LAB: How does your background in photography affect your craft?
CR: My background in photography and graphic design comes through in my designs in terms of a language of form. Even though there aren’t obvious similarities between the disciplines themselves, in my case, there are clear parallels of working with the material at hand. I approach the design and making process of my furniture pieces in a similar way to photography: in a sculptural way.
LAB: Did you pick up furniture making easily, or were the skills difficult to adopt? Which part of your process is most frustrating? Most rewarding?
CR: Luckily I picked it up quite easily. The use of handtools was a joy to get into, to learn, and to perfect. At first I was a little bit more timid with the big machines in the workshop, due to inexperience and lack of confidence. Now, I very much enjoy the combination of using these powerful machines, powertools and handtools. I’m still discovering the characteristics of different wood types and find it very exciting to get to know their workability and limitations.
I learned that making furniture is about finding the most suitable solution with the material and tools available while striving for highest quality. It can get quite nerdy at times, but I’m hooked.
LAB: Tell us about the value of interdisciplinary creative work from your perspective.
CR: In my opinion, interdisciplinary creative work is the highest asset when working in the creative industry, to which I count furniture design and making. Working in a setup where you have a mix of disciplines under one roof is inspiring and beneficial to all parties. Being able to exchange ideas, consult, and collaborate with each other enriches the design and making process.
LAB: Tell us about what drew you to apply for the Richard Seager Prize and what you hope to gain from it.
CR: What appealed to me when applying for the Richard Seager award was Mr. Seager’s personal story and the opportunity to create a very personal piece for his wife. At this stage in my career, I am hoping to gain extra experience through this first commission by using processes I haven’t used yet and by collaborating with a composer and artist for some aspects of the piece.
LAB: Invent a piece of furniture that doesn’t exist yet. What do you call it, and what function does it serve? Why would you want it in your home?
CR: A table that encourages communication between two people.
LAB: Describe your creative process – what inspires you (in the natural world, in pop culture, in music, etc.)? What do you do to combat creative blocks? What helps you to stay inspired, focussed, and on-task?
CR: I get inspired by experiencing and studying architecture and by discovering unfamiliar materials. I always carry a pocketsize notebook with me, where I sketch and take notes on my (daily) travels together with taking photos of certain details. In my experience, travelling is a very inspiring way to find new ideas and inspiration.
LAB: Imagine you travel 10 years into the future and visit yourself. What do you hope future-you will say / do?
CR: In the future I see myself running my own workshop within a collective of other female makers with a focus on creating sustainable furniture.