Indianapolis designer transforms everyday objects
Yard sales and the clearance bin at the DIY store inspire this Indianapolis industrial designer and artist.
“I’d see crutches at a yard sale and get them because I thought, Hey, this bent wood could be cool for legs or something. And I was collecting them and stashing them in the garage,” Stuart says.
Before sharing his passion for upcycling and making his own objects in his new book, DIY Furniture, Stuart began as an artist.
Influenced by a mother who enjoyed oil painting, as well as traveling overseas to visit his father in the Air Force, Stuart grew up immersed in a culture of art.
His focus later turned to industrial design, developing a love for 3-D and functional objects. He worked at Thomson Consumer Electronics as a self-taught graphic designer, quickly moving up in the company.
After his division closed its doors in 2008, Stuart started Luur, a multidisciplinary design studio, where he still does consulting work.
With ups and downs in the economy, Stuart moved to Atlanta to work for a design firm, moved back to Indianapolis and then decided to continue his education with a focus on furniture design.
“I think, because of the economy, everyone was starting to simplify their lives and think about what they can do on their own and how they can stretch their budget,” Stuart says. “Maybe it had hit me a little sooner than everyone else, because I had already been through my second layoff.”
Stuart wanted to share the rewarding feeling of putting pen to paper and making something with one’s own hands. DIY Furniture was a way to share his passion and background in design with anyone interested in creating.
The projects in the book are functional pieces of art made by designers with different styles and interpretations.
“They just sort of found parts and stuck them together –– kind of like you would with Tinker Toys,” Stuart says. “Because they’re designers, they came up with really beautiful shapes and concepts.”
You can add a designer’s touch to your home without the high price. Making your own furniture gives you control over color, shape and materials –– adding a personal touch to any room. Christopher Stuart offers these tips to get your creative juices flowing.
> Sketch your idea first and explore different shapes, or just start sticking things together. Don’t be afraid to play around.
> Look for inspiration and materials everywhere –– yard sales, hardware stores or on the side of the road.
> Let projects in the book trigger your own creative ideas. Take a project like the Oddstock Floored Wardrobe (below). If you want to make the piece more modern, use straight legs instead. If you like the chevron pattern, make a headboard with the same concept.
> Follow your heart. If you have an idea, just go for it.
Learn how to take unconventional materials like plumbing pipe or plastic foam to create recontextualized furniture. DIY Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide by Christopher Stuart, published October 2011, compiles 30 unique projects from designer-makers around the world.
From seating and storage to bedroom and garden furniture, each project focuses on a different room, purpose and process. Some designs are simple and can take less than two hours, and others more complicated, taking a few weekends to complete.
Stuart’s inspiration came from wanting to create something beautiful out of nothing.
“When I first started, I probably looked like a weirdo,” Stuart admits. “I was going to the hardware store almost every day and would walk down every aisle, touch every part, and think about what I could reuse that for.”
Prompted by the question, What would a designer do with these everyday objects?, Stuart sought high-end designs from New York City to Milan.
By working through the book, you’ll learn new skills to add to your DIY know-how.
To try your hand at making designer furniture from scratch, purchase DIY Furniture from laurenceking.com, $24.95.