Christine Meyer-Eaglestone is a contemporary marquetry artist. Chris Tribe is a highly skilled furniture designer maker who has exhibited nationwide. They are currently collaborating on a series of furniture entitled Opposites, a range of high-end, one-off, exciting furniture that is instantly recognizable, compelling and unforgettable. Circles & Stripes is the first in the series. How do the designers harmoniously work together? Christine, who trained in fine art, uses her extensive collection of both natural and ‘reconstructed’ wood veneers as a palette to create each unique design. Her method of hand cutting allows the design to evolve organically under her knife. Once Christine has laid her veneer design on to a man-made substrate, Chris then takes over to joint the panels to form the structure. We challenged both of them to an interview, in order to find out more about their design “alliance”:
What triggered the idea of this fruitful design collaboration? Christine and I both exhibit in a local gallery, we were interested in each other’s work, we both have a meticulous approach to quality of making, so it seemed a logical step to co-operate. I am constantly impressed by the accuracy of Christine’s work, the patterns are all hand cut, she has no truck with laser cutting! What determined your passion for furniture design and development? Chris – I came to furniture making with a craft approach to the work. I enjoy wood as a material and get pleasure from working it. Combine this with the satisfaction of creating work that fully meets the customer’s needs, both functional and aesthetic, and you have a job worth doing. Christine – when I was introduced to marquetry during a cabinetmaking course this was to be the catalyst for bringing together my fine art background and passion for architecture and design to produce pieces of furniture (and artworks) with a contemporary marquetry surface, ranging from minimal to complex.
Tell us more about the Circles & Stripes Collection. How would you describe the process of development? Who comes up with the ideas for the patterns? Christine brought a wealth of ideas to the table when we first discussed the collaboration; some had been in her sketchbook for many years. However matters of proportion were decided jointly and Chris decided on the details of construction. How long does it usually take to develop a furniture item in the collection (from the concept to the final phase)? As mentioned before some ideas may go back many years waiting for an opportunity for development. Once design has been decided it may take a couple of months to completion.
Who is your target audience? We are aiming for domestic customers with a strong sense of design. The Circles and Stripes sideboard would also make a fantastic centerpiece for a design conscious retail venue. What type of interiors are suited for this collection? With their striking patterns these pieces will work best in a spacious interior. Although they are determinedly contemporary pieces we believe that contemporary and traditional are not mutually exclusive. You would need a certain amount of chutzpah to incorporate Circles & Stripes into your interior. The bold geometric shapes and contrasting hues command attention. It is furniture without compromise, taking a stand against the blandness of much contemporary furniture. Its quirkiness is eye-catching while the quality of its workmanship is rare. The sideboard is composed of a central carcase holding six walnut fronted, push-to-open, hand-dovetailed oak drawers. The dark walnut contrasts with the predominantly maple background of the surround.
Photo above: Marquetry wall relief – Tranquility by Christine Meyer-Eaglestone What response did you get from the market so far, regarding the Circles & Stripes Collection? We exhibited the first piece, the Circles and stripes sideboard at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design in Cheltenham in 2011. It drew considerable attention a number of people commenting that it was the best piece in the show. When we exhibited at the Northern Contemporary Furniture Makers 5th Annual Exhibition it drew a lot of attention and everyone seemed to love it although very few felt their own home could accommodate such a bold piece.
photo above: Marquetry chest – Jazz by Christine Meyer-Eaglestone What are your plans for the future? Will you continue this collaboration? We are already discussing new designs for production this year, these include a possible wall cabinet and side table. If you could say something important about your work that would instantly reach millions of people (Freshome has this ability), what would it be? Sometimes it’s good to startle people, these designs grab your imagination.
photo above: Marquetry screen – Bold II by Christine Meyer-Eaglestone