Working with the flowing lines of nature, furniture maker/sculptor Michael Coffey has been called one of the world’s greatest living studio artists. His bespoke designs are functional pieces of art, their sinuous curves reflecting the earth, sea and even animals in their modern forms. After gaining major attention in 1978 for his Aphrodite Rocking Chair (shown above), he has gone on to create some of the most imaginative furniture one could imagine. The original chair was recently auctioned at Sotheby’s, commanding a price of $48,000.
Far from sculpting at random from a large piece of wood, Coffey creates detailed plans for each of his commissioned pieces, knowing full well what the result will be long before he begins. Using woods like walnut, African mozambique, white oak and Honduran mahogany, he first carves with a chainsaw, roughing in the pieces major details. He then carves with finer and finer instruments like chisels and electric sanders to bring out their final silky smooth form.
Coffey was born and raised in New York City, working from 1953 to 1972 as a clinical social worker while he self-taught himself in the arts. He was influenced by greats like George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, Wharton Esherick, Walker Reed, Sam Maloof, and Jack Rogers Hopkins. Coffey currently creates bespoke furniture from his studio and home in Massachusetts. You can find examples of his work for sale at Bespoke Global. Be sure to watch the excellent video below, featuring the endearingly cheerful Coffey talking about his works.