Vol. 2, Issue #1 Feb. 2nd - Feb. 15th, 2007

Hugh Meade: Another Happy Artist in Oklahoma
By: Aharen Richardson

Depending on your personal experience, you may or may not view furniture as art. If you don’t, then viewing Hugh Meade’s manufactured MDF masterpieces will surely change your mind. Hugh traveled to Oklahoma from Atlanta in 2003 to find an entrenched and supportive artistic community and has been diligently crafting furniture for local customers ever since. Like many artists it took him some time to decide which medium he would focus on to express his artistic vision; beginning with music and then moving on to film he eventually gave both up for a job as a shop assistant in a studio making custom furniture for the hospitality industry. There he learned the skills and techniques necessary for creating exclusive designs and finishes for the high-end custom furniture market. He took these same techniques and used them to express his own artistic vision, creating modern tables, bookcases, and chairs.

Hugh Meade’s designs are influenced by his attraction to Art Nouveau, Mid-Century Modern furniture, and the Arts and Craft Movement. And also by early science fiction movies and comics: the early industrial vision of the future from movies like Metropolis and Barbarella. And truly each of his pieces looks as if they would fit right into any fantastic cinematic landscape. The unique blend of curves and angles, all fit together by traditional joining, create an organic component that is heightened by rich earthen colors set of by thick lacquers. The use of MDF allows Hugh to create a visual plain that is devoid of visible grains yet enhanced by flowing lines and empty spaces. There is an element of growth and animation that sparks fantasy allowing a chair to become a throne for a Lewis Carroll character and a table to become the workspace for a futuristic philosopher.

Hugh describes his furniture style as unique and says it has been described “as either “organic modern” or “nouveau modern” because of the obvious Art Nouveau influence of the forms. I have also heard micro-bio-rococo, hyper-modern, and, of course swiss-cheese.”

Whimsy and sophistication are synthesized into functionality and that is what Hugh’s customers want. However functional his furnishings are, they are above all—artistic artifacts. Each piece is made by hand, sanded several times and given anywhere from 5-8 coats of lacquer. Hugh uses a technique that combines the latest furniture making technology with simple tools and readily available materials. He is a proponent of “micro-fabrication” and creates designs that can be “described” by a computer assisted design program and rendered as a 3D model on a computer screen. In the future Hugh’s customers will be able to choose a table from a library of designs and modify it to fit certain specified parameters, such as width, height, or finish type, creating true one of a kind pieces. MDF is a recyclable material and is becoming more environmentally stable with the reduction of formaldehyde and the inclusion of renewable plant fibers. His pieces can also be shipped flat and then put together by hand.

He is very happy to point out how supportive the artistic community has been since he and his wife moved to Oklahoma City. The warehouse studio he works out of belongs to Rob Johnstone and Rob’s business partner Brent Logsdon who are longtime members of the OKC theatrical community. The main work of the studio (which is officially called LogStone Studio) is the production of theatrical sets and backdrops and the occasional enormous puppet. “Rob has graciously allowed me to use his studio and many of his tools to produce my work. He has never asked me for recompense; although I try to help out as much as I can, whenever I can.”

Hugh has been accepted into the 2007 Art Festival’s Environs Exhibit and his work can be found in Estrella Evan’s Velvet Monkey Salons.

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