John Lord, Designer

John Lord prefers to call himself a designer rather than a furniture maker or sculptor. “To me, it implies creative problem solving, and it can be in any area of art or life,” he says. “Henry Ford was a designer and so were Raymond Leowy and Russell Wright. They brought out practical, useful and beautiful solutions to the design problems they worked on.”

John says he enjoys confronting people with his works of art. “The unspoken message is to question what you consider to be the norm, the standard, or ‘the way it’s supposed to be,’” he explains. “Where is it carved in stone that furniture (in this case) must all look like what you see in the big box stores or at grandma’s house?”

The table pictured above is part of his series called Furniture from Mars. “All of these pieces are made of standard rod and sheet steel shapes which are commercially available,” John says. “Like most of my work, it continues to ask people to look at these forms and their environment in general and consider alternatives. For example, why must a table have a traditional configuration such a flat top and four legs? Why can’t it be some other way?

“There’s no particular name for the style,” he continues. “It’s a conglomeration of forms, everything from nature, such as geological formations and crystals, to Greek Revival architecture and the wild forms and colors embodied in the Memphis Style of design in Milano in the ’70s and ’80s. I enjoy using incongruous bits of visual confetti whenever possible.”

Although his high school guidance counselor discouraged him from going to college, he eventually started taking classes at Finger Lakes Community College. “Even though art history 101 at 8 a.m. isn’t anyone’s idea of stimulating, it did get me to look at art differently. I was hooked on the concept of creating art, and I never looked back. My next stop was Buffalo State for a bachelor’s degree in design, and then on to Syracuse University for my master’s in fine arts.

John’s current project is a submission for the windows project at West Irondequoit School District. “It involves using a salvaged window sash from the old high school building,” he says. “Since many participants will use the window as a window, I decided to make it into a table with a glass top. It’s gone from something we look through to something we look at.”

To contact John, email him at earlytech@ yahoo.com or write to him at 432 Wagner Street, Waterloo, New York 13165.