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On display in Hollywood: “Design geek” Michael Boyd’s handcrafted modernist furnishings

“Looking. Learning. Thinking. Feeling. Making. Rinse and repeat” is how Michael Boyd describes his creative process. The landscape, furniture and architectural designer is perhaps best known for the restoration of the Oscar Niemeyer Strick House in Santa Monica, but his other projects — and there are many — read like a who’s who of modern architecture in Southern California. All those years of experience and collecting, plus an appreciation for design history, are expressed in his latest installment of handcrafted furniture, which went on display Nov. 12 at the JF Chen gallery in Hollywood.

The work— which includes chairs, lamps and candlesticks, offers a view into the mind of an impassioned modernist who describes himself as “a design geek” and “a curious looker.”

“I try to synthesize all design culture,” Boyd says, “not just the history of design and architecture, but also movies and fashion, and not just Vienna and Paris and Amsterdam as touchstones — but also looking at Japan and Brazil, as well as here in the land of Eames and [Craig] Ellwood.”

Michael Boyd designs

Pair of Doug Fir plank chairs.

(Patrik Argast)
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Boyd has christened his current collection Continuum, a title intended “to convey the continuity and continuation with the past instead of breaking with it, a continuum across time, category and discipline.” Rather than perpetuate or alter masterworks from the modern era, he applies “the notion that Modernism can be continued. It is not just a style from a particular period ... but, rather, [it] remains a fluid and flexible model that offers a boundless wellspring of design solutions for all time.”

Michael Boyd designs

Zebrawood and patinated bronze “Bat” frame and chair on Commune Tile.

(Hans Eckhardt (left), Gregory Zabilski (right))

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For lamps and candlesticks, Boyd used redwood that was wire brushed, then soaked in water and steel wool for days to create what he considers a “rich topography to the human touch.” The process blackens the wood, giving the grain a map-like appearance. Most of the chairs in the series were made with a variety of dark, richly colored woods such as Wenge from West Africa and Imbuya from Brazil. Another series of chairs and ottomans, constructed with steel and jute (they are indoor-outdoor), have an axonometric, lightweight, floating look. As with all the furniture in the Continuum series, each piece is simple and minimally composed without affecting functionality.

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Michael Boyd designs

Furniture at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles

(Spencer Lowell)

Boyd’s Continuum also includes a series of bowls made from Carrara marble, bronze, plaster and painted concrete, plus a collaboration — a number of wool rugs — with luxury rug producer and fellow design devotee Christopher Farr.

Prices range from $900 to $12,000.

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Michael Boyd design show info

Michael Boyd designs

Milled aluminum and indigo denim mountain chair.

Continuum by Michael Boyd

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Where: JF Chen, 1135 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles

When: Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Ends Jan. 7.

Price: Free

Contact: (323) 463-4603; jfchen.com

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