Just found “Art for Everyday by Patricia Conway 1990. She has done an excellent job of exploring furniture as functional art.
Furniture has always served as functional. the Arts and Crafts movement had a big effect on putting the man/person back into the equation. architechs like Wright, designed furniture to be part of the art of his designs. Beautiful pieces that are not very comfortable to sit in. The Arts and Crafts movement ended in 1919. The Bau Haus inspired new ideas in furniture and design.
Wharton Esherick was a sculpor who made furniture with an organic form. In the 50’s and 60’s George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, and John Makepeace continued the movement. Then master Tage Fried taught furniture at the college level.
Others like Wendell Castle, and James Krenov emphasized the feeling that furniture and wood give us.
Castle has since progressed into forms other than wood but follows the “feelig” of furniture.
George Nakashima learned his woodworking skills from a Japanese master craftsman while interned in the “camps” He was trained as an architect and worked in Japan as well although an american citizen. The end of the war had Mr. Nakashima building functional furniture for people and later in extended to the natural organic form of the tree itself.
Most recently, I ran across Howard Werner Who sculpts furniture out of a solid block of wood. His tools are chain saws, power planers and grinders.
-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher