Merging Form and Art

Artist Profile — Jo Roessler

When does a useful object become art?

I think you know it when you see it. Take for example the furniture designed and handcrafted by Jo Roessler of Nojo Design in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Elaines_Bed
Jo has a thing for beds and I think I have a thing for his beds. Artful and refined. What dreams I’d design in one of these beds.

Gerrits_Bed

“My initial attraction to furniture was how people interacted with furniture,” said Jo. “What is more intimate than bedroom furniture?”

Noras_Bed

As a kid Jo observed design and building through his father, the architect. But the idea of creating beautiful, functional furniture didn’t click for him right away.

“I saw it as more utilitarian,” said Jo. “In college, I pursued photography. While there, I started to learn about the studio furniture movement and the more I learned, the more I struggled with the two-dimensionality of photography.”

“I quickly realized furniture was an excellent way to merge form and art.”

Greys_Bed

What other furniture artists’ work does Jo admire?

“My main inspiration is Gerrit Rietveld, for whom my son is named. I also find inspiration in some of the more contemporary designers; Sam Maloof, Judy McKee — the fact that they have managed to succeed while staying true to their visions is an inspiration.”

MSeries_BedMSeries_Bedside

The forms found in architecture, other man-made objects and in nature stimulate Jo’s creativity. “Inspiration is everywhere, just keep drawing and you will find it,” said Jo.

NojoStudios_ExteriorArtists know that a great workspace can enliven the creative process; and like his furniture, Jo’s workspace is functional and stylish.

“My studio is located in a 1920’s vaudeville theater that ran into disrepair and disgrace (it was an infamous porn theater in the 1970’s),” said Jo. “Once video came out, the building sat vacant for twenty years.”

 

“After renovating the theater into a multi-use building, I ended up with 3,000+ SF studio,” said Jo.

“I consider the space to be my most valuable tool. I can have multiple pieces in various states of production set up at once. This is an incredible asset to me since I can see and assess work in progress.”

Nojo_Studio

Designing and building fine furniture is labor-intensive; Jo spends many hours in that studio. I wondered what keeps him motivated.

Seeing what comes next,” said Jo. “…some of the work that used to be ‘classics’ are no longer my benchmarks.”

Jo’s work goes beyond the bedroom. Here’s a hint of his other pieces:

coffee_table

Tucker_Stepped

JoStudioIt’s important to Jo that his customers appreciate the furniture he crafts for them. I enjoyed this story that he shared with me.

“One of my clients ordered a bed for
her son as a wedding gift. Two years after delivery she called to thank me. When asked why now, she said, ‘I got two grandkids out of the deal – the bed worked!’ ”

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5 Comments for “Merging Form and Art”

Beautiful furniture! My favorite is that wonderfully unique cabinet in the last image. I love it!

I agree, Sherri. It amazes me the designs and craftsmanship that people are executing out there. Jo is certainly a master at what he does. Me? I adore the first bed.

Thanks for visiting today,
–Kathy

Wonderful Site. This man’s studio is awesome, I wish I had one. Oh and the staircase storage design is beautiful.

Dean,

We should all be so lucky to have such a studio for our creative pursuits. Someday….

Thanks for the compliment on the site, and for stopping in!
–Kathy

Thank you for highlighting artists such as Jo Roessler. This caliber of craft needs a venue all its own to promote the art of furniture. This is becoming a Pottery Barn world who needs exposure to unique, but timeless design.

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