A Cool Contemporary Irish Craftsman: Joseph Walsh
By Erica and Karen
Check this out. We went to hear a conversation at the New York School of Interior Design with Joseph Walsh, a young Irish designer who combines his craftsmanship, intelligence, tech savvy, and artistic sensibility to take bent wood to a whole new level. His furniture, like his personality, is exuberant and ambitious and absolutely out of this world. You can see it until May 24th at the American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue.
Walsh’s studio in West Cork is on the farm he grew up on. He is essentially self-taught, growing up around people who worked with their hands. He started by fixing stuff and then, when he was twelve, he made his first piece of furniture. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most important woodworkers, his work reflecting not only his Irish heritage but his worldliness too. He talked about how his perspective changed when, eight or so years ago, he had his first exhibition in New York. Being away from Ireland, he said, gave him the opportunity to step back, be objective about his work, and question whether what he was doing was saying what he really wanted to say. When he returned to his studio, his processes and his work evolved--more fluid, he said, more adapting. More himself.
His forms are surprising and sensual. They are, as moderator Daniella Ohad remarked, complex but clear. Though very few are privileged to live with one of his pieces, we like to imagine what it might be like.