Market Talent: It Runs in the Family
-- Interior Design, 6/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Paul Loebach comes from a long line of artisans unafraid to experiment with the latest materials. Loebach's grandfather bent sheet metal into B-24 airplanes, then cobbled together his own kitchen utensils from airplane parts. And Loebach's chemical-engineer dad helped develop plastic milk bottles for Union Carbide Corporation in the 1970's. Loebach's own work as a furniture designer elevates woodwork into high art.
Trained at the family workbench as well as the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved to New York in 2002 and apprenticed with furniture designer John Davies. Armed with the Danish drawing techniques that Davies had learned from Tage Frid, Loebach established his own studio, designing furniture for the mass market as well as sideline projects. These experiments married old and new elements and techniques. Consider a chair pairing elaborately turned legs with a minimalist seat and back—or the curlicue supports of a floor mirror incised by water jets.
Loebach exhibited his most recent collection, called Space Case, at this year's Salone Satellite. Vase Space, a maple table with a tripod base and a top featuring an integrated trio of vases, and Chair-O Space, which appears to combine lathe turning and steam bending, both evoke classic American woodworking. "Innovative design is less about inventing and more about picking up on something that already exists and applying it in a new way," Loebach says.
Still, a traditional craftsman would have a tough time replicating his curves and details. To produce the collection, Loebach knocked on the door of a Midwestern aerospace manufacturer. "I didn't show any ideas for finished products, just a series of formal explorations that pushed the limits of their capabilities," he explains. His cold call worked. The sweeping basswood curves of Shelf Space and the belly-dancing form of the Speed Metal candlestick could never have been realized without the manufacturer's multi-axis CNC and rapid-prototyping technology. 646-489-2749; paulloebach.com. circle 412