To Portland woodworker Chris Held, furniture is a way to connect with a past that’s disappeared from much of America. “I work with old materials and weathered finishes to infuse my furniture with nostalgia,” says Held. “I grew up in the sprawling suburbs of Atlanta where everything old was torn down to make room for the new. My furniture represents a yearning for the old, for something that doesn’t smell of fresh asphalt.”
CPAI-78 (left), crafted of reclaimed fir, salvaged steel and salvaged hand-stitched leather, explores Held’s fascination with vintage materials and shows off his fondness for unique design. “I see my work primarily as sculpture; function is a secondary interest,” says the 27-year-old. “I love designing furniture that is ill-conceived functionally: It has an intended function but you’re not quite sure what it is.”
Held, now in his last year at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, didn’t start out with his furniture-as-sculpture attitude. He spent a few years hitchhiking and train-hopping around the country, working odd jobs in restaurant kitchens and Christmas tree lots to pay for living expenses. “I was frustrated because I didn’t have any real job skills, so I wanted to learn a trade that would let me travel and work anywhere in the world,” he says. “Once I got to the Oregon College of Art and Craft, I became far more interested in the creative aspect of the medium. And it swept me away.” CPAI-78 costs $1,800.