16 May Meet Peter Sandback
Peter Sandback has gained a national reputation for his furniture design, but in particular his intricate pattern work of inlaid nails set into minimalist handmade tables, benches and other functional forms that he designs and builds.
Sandback was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where he was immersed in the art world. His father, Fred Sandback (1943-2003), had a studio in SOHO in New York City and gained international acclaim in the 1960s as a minimalist sculptor known for his yarn sculptures, drawings and prints. While Peter Sandback grew up primarily in Brooklyn, he spent the weekends at his father’s apartment in SoHo — a neighborhood south of Houston Street in Manhattan which was at the center of New York’s art scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He recalls meeting well-known artists from the period, including Andy Warhol, and falling asleep in front of the speakers at a concert the famous composer Philip Glass gave at his apartment.
Sandback is a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made Honoree and has regularly exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, held annually in New York City. His work has been featured in multiple design publications. Sandback received a BFA in industrial design from the University of Michigan and a MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved west to San Francisco’s Bay Area, where in 1992 he founded his furniture business.
Since 2004, Peter has maintained a studio in Harrisville, New Hampshire. Sandback’s studio is in a large renovated garage on 30 acres of land. The space is bright, with work tables and machines used to process wood. Sandback spends about 50 hours per week in his Harrisville studio, designing and constructing his tables. While there, he’s drilling, placing nails or using a variety of machines to sand, process and treat the wood.
His designs are inspired by katagami, an ancient Japanese stencil used to dye textiles, often used for kimonos. Sandback is attracted to these designs because they are handmade. “It’s the way the pattern looks afterwards; it’s warmer. It doesn’t look like a robot-generated pattern; it looks like a human-generated pattern. It’s just more interesting, especially since there’s so many patterns made by the computer out there in the world.”