If you happened to attend Design Miami last month, you were probably one of the many visitors who stopped dead in their tracks when they encountered Joseph Walsh's work. This young Irish designer is a rising star in contemporary design.
Joseph Walsh (b. 1979) is a young master craftsman at the forefront of a new generation of furniture designers who are no longer relying on AutoCAD, plastic molds or detritus. Part of the appeal of Walsh's work is the contrast between the hyper-contemporary aesthetics and the old-school "all by hand" execution. While designers have been making sinuous shapes from wood since the mid-19th century (think Thonet) they have typically relied on steam. Walsh on the other hand carves, oils and cold-presses the wood to create the futuristic forms of his work. Most of his creations are made from pale woods such as ash and bleached walnut.
Over the last few years Walsh has had an increasing presence in the United States, with his work being exhibited at SOFA in Chicago and American Irish Historical Society in New York. (Walsh is Irish and established his studio in Cork in 1999). His work is sold at Todd Merrill's in New York City and Merrill's Design Miami booth contained an impressive selection of Walsh's work. Based on the response and number of commissions placed, Walsh is going to be an international design star very soon.
While Walsh's creations are extremely expensive, his aesthetic and choice of materials is clearly influencing more accessibly-priced products. Expect pale and bleached woods as an emerging design trend in 2011, already seen in recent offerings from Fritz Hansen.
Images: Troy Seidman