Artistic furniture is exactly what one expects from someone trained in the art of sculpture, and that’s what the talented Steven Haulenbeek delivers. There’s a beautiful rustic quality to his work – refined elegance and impeccably crafted furniture and accessories instilled with inspiration taken from Mother Nature’s handbook. His pieces fit seamlessly into both city apartments and country retreats – a difficult feat for masters who have been years in perfecting their craft let alone for someone who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago less than a decade ago.
I guess it must be having grown up just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan where winter comes with a heavy dose of snow and ice, but Haulenbeek uses a really amazing process which leaves us with his astonishing artistic furniture: he pours hot wax into molds he creates in blocks of ice to create a form which he then recreates in pewter or bronze through the lost wax process.
Haulenbeek says that even the temperature of the ice will give a different texture to the final product, and you never know exactly what you will get so each piece is also unique. He may also be the only person in Chicago who enjoys the long cold months of winter as it has allowed him to work outdoors creating ever larger pieces of furniture unrestricted by the size of his indoor freezer!
The two tables shown above along with the candelabra, are favorites. I love the warmth of the bronze and the textured surfaces that allow such a marvelous play with how they reflect light. In the evening, these tables literally light up a room as they reflect light. And the candelabra look amazing with the flickering candlelight bouncing off their coarse surface. These are great examples of using unusual artistic furniture and accessories to add interest to your room.
Haulenbeek also designs other beautiful furnishings using more traditional techniques. His Formation Cocktail Table for Holly Hunt takes laser-cut steel finished in bronze patina and combines it with a bronze colored glass inset top to fashion a table that looks completely whole. The base draws downward to the center like the point of a diamond giving the table a perilous balance that adds a sense of drama.
Haulenbeek’s Sync Side Tables are one of his latest creations and pair an industrial cast glass tray top with a wooden base to build chic side tables – easy to see scattered in a living room. When the base is done in a rich dark walnut or oak, they would look superb used with Mid-Century or even Art Deco furniture to provide a bit of unpolished contrast.
I hope that Haulenbeek’s furniture proves to everyone that today’s designers are still pushing the envelope of creativity and breathing new life into old forms and processes. Who would imagine that experimenting with ice would lead to such amazingly unique artistic furniture? If this is the future of American furniture design, then I’m all in!
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits:artistic furniture: Steven Haulenbeek