Furniture Designer and master woodworker Thomas Hucker has been working on quality fine furniture in a unique way since around the mid-1970s, inspired by his concert pianist grandmother and her instinctual sense of genuine quality. It was during his childhood in the 50s and 60s, hearing her perform pieces by the great composers, that he came to appreciate that greatness requires application and hard work.
Thomas’s father, an engineer, working in nuclear power plant design and construction, would also play an important part in Thomas’s development as a technical designer – his pragmatic confidence in the power plants being a major factor in instilling in Thomas confidence in his design and his creativity.
Thomas’s furniture design is a wonderful blend of materials and artistic exploration, developing beautiful aesthetic objects with somewhat constructionally complex solutions to devise new ways of understanding the way we interact and relate to our furniture. The influences of such a furniture designer range from Jazz musicians such as Leonard Hilgner to the wonderful and contemplative tea ceremonies of the far east. The shapes, methods and materials Thomas employs, including, stone, metals, rope and, of course, woods, clearly express his influences from the myriad cultures of the modern world while also being respectful and drawing extensively on classical furniture designs, clearly taking what has come before and developing the concepts with his visual language.
Take his piece ‘Tall Table with Wire’ (1991) as a fine example of his learned ability to “Answer one good question.”
This table is all about the concept of the surface. Thomas creates a valid surface that truly functions but is barely visible. He teases our preconceptions, pushes our eyes to look again by stretching wires between two horizontal poles. The stress is created by opposing stainless steel U-shaped components that push outward, themselves held on a delicate structure of frames. If we accept that the objective of design is to “think about what one great question, then answer that one question,” in this work, the very idea that the table should have a surface is questioned—and answered.
“To be a woodworker, a master craftsman, is like being a concert pianist. If you really want to approach musical composition correctly, you start off learning one instrument and mastering it so that you can be part of the fabricating of music. I felt that was missing in the fine arts courses at the schools I was considering. The way it was set up, you no longer knew how to be a painter. No one was teaching it, and no one seemed to care.”
Various experiences led to Thomas becoming inspired to walk the path of a furniture designer; a travelling exhibition called “Objects USA” showcasing the work of serious practicing furniture makers such as Sam Maloof, Jere Osgood and George Nakashima. These master furniture designers were also master craftsmen, totally in command and understanding of their materials, developing pieces of beautiful, inspired fine woodworking.
Thomas has taught furniture design at Indiana State University, the Appalachian Centre for Crafts and, briefly, in San Francisco. He currently works out of a shared workshop in Hoboken in New Jersey, developing pieces with architects and private commissions, as well as designing speculatively for galleries.
Click here to Visit Thomas Hucker‘s website
Written by our founder, David Savage. Originally published in 2013