One day, Joel Voisard pulled up in front of The Future Perfect in Brooklyn with a truck-full of ottomans. It was love at first sight, and now we have the privilege of representing one of New York's most innovative designers. A google search for Joel will lead you to a collection of images of his work, but sadly very little information exists about the man behind it all. I decided to reach out to Joel and find out just exactly who he thinks he is, and just how he came to be.
Where do you come from, and what got you interested in designing objects?
I grew up in the Midwest - architect mother and artist father. I have early memories of catching wood off the back side of a table saw before I could see over the top of it. Things were constantly being created, improved, and fixed in our house. And I was the live-in assistant. After high school, I studied sculpture as an undergrad and product design in grad school.
Tell me about your relationship with wood. What type of wood speaks to you and in what way?
I prefer materials with a past. Reclaimed wood tells stories, divulges secrets, and reveals history. I rarely incorporate new wood into my work. Of particular influence:
-In my hometown there was a significant flood in the early 1900's. My parents owned some old buildings in the downtown area and restored them to their original luster. I vividly remember pulling down the plaster walls and seeing the 6' high water line left from the flood. I loved the idea that the place where I was standing had been under water at some point. I look for, leave, and highlight original marks on the materials that I use in my work.
-Another restoration tale. I was helping strip off 100 years worth of wallpaper. Finally we reached the original wall and discovered a signature and date (John Doe, 1906). I sign my work in places that might be found later.
-My father was a bit of a treasure hunter and was convinced that there was something hidden behind a false wall. From the basement, we cut a hole through the floorboards. With great anticipation we shined a flashlight up only to find 100 years worth of dust. But you never know. Surprise and intrigue are king.
What are your favorite things to create, and what is your creative process like, i.e., do you dream about finished works as completed objects, or do you start with a light bulb and work from there?
I consider my design process very much like puzzle making. I surround myself with objects new or old and attempt to combine the materials, i.e. reclaimed wooden beams and a cast cherub, a concrete block and a bust of a man, old molds and new hardware. I try to let the materials speak for themselves and I rarely draw out the intended outcome. 90% of my work to date has been one of a kind. People refer to my aesthetic as Flintstones meets Jetsons, or shipwreck furniture.
Stop by either of our locations to view Joel's work, and maybe pick up one of your own? You can also visit him here.