Vern and Vinnie are a pair of dressers, the latest in a series of anthropomorphized furniture from Judson Beaumont and his company Straight Line Designs. His designs, of course, aren’t straight at all, but a playful interpretation of form and function.
Vern and Vinnie were introduced at Interior Design West earlier this fall and in case you think Beaumont has lost his marbles, think again. Fun yes but a joke, no. Beaumont has been making eye-popping furniture for decades and people around the world pay good money to have one of his unique creations in their home. They collect them like other people collect sculpture. Beaumont calls his pieces art furniture.
His progression from the straight to the whimsical dates back to 1985 when Beaumont graduated from the Emily Carr School of Art and Design ( now a university) and set up shop in an artists’ collective in east Vancouver. He says he used to produce modular, boxy designs just like everybody else until he saw the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
“I was making everything straight and geometrical, you know normal furniture, trying to find my market and after watching Roger Rabbit I just said to myself ‘why can’t things be bent and twisted and off kilter?’”
He started experimenting with plywood and MDF, especially MDF which routers easily, and quickly found his calling. Whether it’s dressers, cabinets, tables or chairs his pieces are always a bit cheeky, like Crash Table which looks like it survived a bad accident or Accordion which looks like a squeeze-box or Little Red Dresser that looks like…well, a dress on a hanger. Sure, his pieces look weird but they’re functional.
“I always say ‘what if? What if a piece of furniture exploded or fractured or melted?’” says Beaumont
Little Red Dresser
In addition to his line of furniture Beaumont also makes large installations for hospital waiting rooms, restaurants, and airport lounges.
Installation at Vancouver International Airport
Beaumont handcrafts his prototypes in his Vancouver studio and then manufacturers the components by machine. He’s not adverse to mass production – he’s made furniture for retailers before – but Beaumont admits he prefers working with individual clients who come to him with a concept he can turn into something tangible. “If I keep drawing the same thing over and over that means I have to make it,” he says. That presents him with a design and an engineering challenge, all the better if he can give the finished product a distinct personality.