Formerly a studio artist, Chris Lehrecke turned to furniture in the early ’80s. What began as high-end custom work for architects has since evolved into his own limited production line of tables, benches, stools, daybeds, pedestals, and lamps from his studio in Bangall, New York. The simplicity of Charles and Ray Eames clearly informs these pieces, as does George Nakashima’s alliance of handcraft and machine production. Lehrecke owes his superb touch with wood, however, to his own crisp design sensibility, and he is attuned to production methods that will generate new forms. He inaugurated a recent series graceful lamps, each made of 1⁄42-inch wood veneers attached to a brass rod with an innovative L-shaped support, when he purchased a metal lathe. For such thinking – and doing – he received the Brooklyn Museum of Art/Modernism Young Designer Award in 1998.
“Furniture design was not a field beckoning to me from an early age. When I moved to New York City in my early twenties with a limited education in studio art and design, I began investigating ways of making a living. Thinking building would utilize my talents, I began working for a furniture maker in Brooklyn. It became obvious very quickly that this was a very good way to express my creative, physical and practical self. Little did I know it would become a life-long obsession.
“Combining my knowledge of how things were made and my appreciation of modern design, I began developing a spare, well-made style of furniture. I had admired a range of aesthetics from African to Japanese to Shaker and mid-century modern work. Designers such as Jean Prouve and Hans Wegner, who worked closely with fabricators, had a great influence on my work. Making and designing furniture were inseparable from the start. Although many of my influences were from the past, I was discovering materials and techniques that were unique to my time. The designs were simple and the materials and fabrication needed to be pushed as far as possible. In working this way I have tried to create designs that feel contemporary without feeling exclusive to the last twenty years.”