Paul Evans

PAUL EVANS (1931-1987) was a leading figure in the mid-century American studio and brutalist furniture movement. Evans consistently pushed boundaries with his innovative approaches to metalsmithing and furniture-making. His transcendent works, which defied what everyday objects looked like and how they were made, continue to reveal the fascinating crosscurrents between sculpture and design.

Evans began working with metal in the early 1950s— first at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen (SAC) in Rochester, New York, where he studied under the influential American silversmiths and designers John (Jack) Prip and Lawrence Copeland, and later at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Evans then moved to Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, where he worked as a full-time craftsman, demonstrating various silversmithing techniques at Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum that re-creates life in rural New England during the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries. In 1955, seeking a change of scenery, Evans moved to Lambertville, New Jersey, a well-known haven for artists and craftsmen, and opened a workshop in a former chicken coop.

He soon befriended the self-taught furniture designer, Phillip Lloyd Powell, who encouraged Evans to take his metallurgy skills and apply them to furniture. For the next ten years, the duo shared a showroom in nearby New Hope, Pennsylvania, and collaborated on pieces that melded Powell’s wood prowess and Evans’ metalworking skills. The late 1950s and 1960s were an incredibly important period for Evans as his workshop operation continued to grow and he began producing some of his most celebrated forms. In 1964, Evans became a featured designer for the furniture manufacturer Directional Furniture, an association that significantly impacted the nature and scope of his production.

His popular Cityscape series garnered significant recognition for Paul Evans furniture and established Directional Furniture as one of the most notable mid-century design companies of the twentieth century. In 1966, Evans relocated to Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania, where he opened a larger workshop. Independent of his work for Directional, Evans continued to create prototypes, produce commissions, and craft his celebrated sculpture-front screens, sideboards, collages, chairs, and tables, which featured high-relief, hand-forged decorative elements. In 1979, Evans opened a second showroom in New York City. Evans died of a heart attack in 1987, shortly after retiring to Massachusetts.

(Source: Incollect; Image Credit: Jeff Baumann)