Martin Sprouse portrait by Laura Darrah
Martin Sprouse believes that "Custom furniture is not about choosing options; it's about creating them". His commissioned pieces are individually designed and built. No two pieces are alike because no two clients are alike. Each design is the end result of a collaborative process with the client that continues through each stage of design and fabrication. Martin Sprouse design studio values this comprehensive approach as much as it values the finished piece. The designs are dedicated to quality, functionality and longevity. Research of new materials and fabrication methods is a constant part of their evolving design process.
Martin Sprouse is valued for his coherent concepts and design innovations. His work is often influenced by architecture, but does not subscribe to a particular style or formula. His furniture respects history without imitating it.
Switch breaks from traditional furniture engineering, allowing for a captured sense of movement and balance. A series of thick, interconnected wood slabs form combined seating and table surface while cantilevered forms and an unconventional structure create a floating mass of parallel planes. The adaptable design lets the piece be placed against a wall or in the middle of a room, giving any space architectural definition.
Solid Walnut / H 24" x W 93" x D 24"
Describe yourself in five words.
Curious, loyal, focused, perfectionist and smart-ass.
If you could be a different nationality, what would it be?
None. For me, nationalism is not a source of pride, identity or envy. As cultures, race, languages, and economies cross-pollinate, so will nations. That is by far more interesting to me than any degree of nationalism.
What’s your favorite movie?
Two movies that represent my current tastes: One sweet (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and one dark (Children of Men).
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
I grew up in the early 80s punk rock scene... The music, culture and politics had a great impact on me and defined my musical interests. Today, I gravitate towards anything with heart and soul, usually underground by nature, not polished, over produced or retro. Right now I’m listening to old Jamaican dub.
What is your favorite design material?
Although I use a lot of solid woods, I don’t have a favorite material. I strive to use new materials in not so obvious ways but they have to be the right choice for the project (durability, esthetics and cost are my constant concerns).
What is the most expensive piece of furniture in your house?
A Swell table by Scot Laughton for Lolah (2002). Ironically, due to a case of strange luck, we got the table for free. Setting aside the cost, it’s a beautiful design, one that I could never do myself.
What inspires you?
Architecture. Craftsmanship. Innovation.
You are going for a weekend “somewhere” and you have to invite 7 famous people, dead or alive. Where would you go and who would they be?
From the architecture, design and art world: Sam Mockbee, Hella Jongerious, Ai Weiwei, Donald Judd, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Zumthor and Geoff Manaugh. Hopefully this group likes to swim and have conversations on a warm beach because that’s the only place I can truly relax.
Are you afraid of the future?
No, my long term vision rarely exceeds 24 hours.
Describe living in 2030 in 10 words.
The concept of god will no longer be taken seriously.
Describe the perfect day?
I wake up.
What does space mean to you?
Of your own design work, what project are you most proud of?
It’s usually the project I’m currently working on. With each new project come new challenges and solutions. Even though, at times, it feels like I’m reinventing the wheel (or the table, in my case), I work hard to ensure that my designs don’t repeat themselves.
The ultimate goal of consumerism and the least interesting aspect of the design world. I have a quote in one of my sketchbooks “There’s a difference between paying for quality and paying for luxury.”
A way to articulate concepts.
designed by Martin Sprouse :
Using strict modernism as a starting point, a basic rectangular table design developed into an innovative, multi-functioning workstation. Based on the client's daily work patterns, three cantilevered extensions were added to the table, increasing its surface space and usability. By not following a singular definition, 3Chord serves as the client's personal desk as well as a large, shared workspace for working closely with other people. The beauty of the contrasting materials creates a piece that seamlessly connects the home and office.
Solid Walnut, Corian, bead blasted stainless steel / H 29.5" x W 72" x D 34"
A mistaken cut on a model led to deleting sections of these generic square tables, giving them unique but related identities. This concept was enhanced with two distinct material applications: a Corian spine, which provides the table's structure and creates storage for magazines, as well as a solid walnut skin.
Solid Walnut, Corian / H 16" x W 16" x D 16"
The primary element of the Twentyfour table is its multifaceted design. Six possible tabletops allow for ever-changing views when flipped from one side to another. The concept behind the piece was that two people could own identical tables but would rarely place them in the same position, obscuring any obvious similarities. Voids in each of the 11 structural panels follow a basic pattern but are arranged to maximize visual complexity. Twentyfour can be used as an end table or stool. Its various openings provide optional storage space.
Solid Jatoba / H 16" x W 16" x D 16"
all furniture photography by Winni Wintermeyer