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Tom Loeser Furniture Exhibition at Museum of Craft and Design

Tom Loeser: Please Please Please & Installation by San Francisco art collective, t.w. five

January 20 – May 20, 2018

December 19, 2017, San Francisco, CA – The Museum of Craft and Design is pleased to announce its inaugural 2018 exhibition, Tom Loeser: Please Please Please, presented in partnership with the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and an accompanying site-specific installation by 2017 SFMOMA SECA award-winning artist collective t.w.five.

Madison, Wisconsin-based designer/maker Tom Loeser re-imagines the ways that the body, furniture and space can interact. Featuring approximately 20 works, primarily new, the exhibition showcases Loeser’s investigation of unconventional, invitational furniture forms. The works, which reimagine what furniture can be, are presented in an immersive installation that exhibition-goers can activate: visitors can sit, tumble and roll various objects that both invite and structure social interaction. Loeser’s recent two-dimensional experimental work with cyanotype prints and pyrography will also be on display.

“If the furniture we sit on every day were totally different, would our lives be different too?” is a primary inquiry of Loeser’s work, which began in the early 1980s with the series Folding Chairs–colorful seats that doubled as wall-hung art–and has evolved to include chests that swivel and slide, rocking chairs for two, rotary-action benches and many other innovative iterations.

“In making this exhibition,” says guest curator Glenn Adamson, “we have been inspired by Loeser’s way of turning furniture upside-down and inside-out. This is partly about understanding the medium’s full potential, and partly about sheer enjoyment. It’s a show that children and adults alike will love.”

The exhibition incorporates two of Loeser’s early Folding Chairs, which despite their deceptively straightforward name are in fact very complex objects, both constructively and conceptually. Each chair in the series hangs from a mount on the wall, and flattens into a rectilinear plane reminiscent of an abstract painting, a postmodernist take on the De Stijl school. Through a series of ingenious moves, involving unfolding and internal props, the object can then be made into a four-legged seat. Loeser intended the Folding Chairs to highlight the distinction between functional and formal considerations, the “craft vs. art” discourse dominant in the 1980s. In retrospect, however, they seem equally interesting for their suggestion of spatial transformation and re-scripting.

Loeser’s recent group of “tool handle” seating pieces are formally related to Windsor chairs, as well as to such past studio furniture masters as George Nakashima and J.B. Blunk. Made by joining antique tool parts with natural timber slabs, they speak to the union of tool and material that underlies all forms of craftsmanship. Parts of scythes, shovels and pitchforks are wittily present in the objects, which invite visitors to literally “handle” them, encouraging both tactile and visual exploration.

Loeser’s recent series, New York/Chicago/LA features beautifully decorated “tumblers”: seats that are carved and painted or upholstered with felt or dyed leather. Made in collaboration with Paris-trained upholsterer Matthew Nafranowicz of The Straight Thread in Madison, Wisconsin, their soft felt surfaces and reinforced corners enable them to be re-arranged at will. Each piece can be placed upright for maximum height, sideways for a median height, or laid flat to the ground. Similar box forms are used as props in the film industry; they are named after the three cities in Loeser’s title to reflect the difference in the heights of their skylines. The public will be invited to maneuver and use the tumblers, creating, in Loeser’s words, their own “micro-community of sitters.”

Also on display will be new works on paper. Pyrographs, images directly “burned” into the paper with the artist’s own chair-shaped brands, place emphasis on the physical gesture of embossing and scorching the thick paper, while the cyanotypes, are “ghost” images of small, furniture forms handmade by Loeser.

Please Please Please is intended for all ages, while also encouraging adult visitors to consider issues that they may take for granted, such as body posture and etiquette. Accessible and entertaining, Loeser’s work also has a purpose: to shake up our habits, and encourage us to be playful with our environment and with one another.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated publication with essays by guest curator Glenn Adamson and author of Amateur Craft and Theory, Stephen Knott.


About Tom Loeser

Tom Loeser designs and builds one-of-a-kind functional and dysfunctional objects that are based on the history of design and object-making as a starting point for developing new form and meaning. He has been head of the wood/furniture area in the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison since 1991. He holds a BA from Haverford College, a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Loeser is the recipient of four Visual Artist Fellowship Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and an NEA Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship. His work has been featured in many national and international exhibitions, and is in the collections of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Museum of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts and many other institutions. He was elected to the American Craft Council College of Fellows in 2012.

Tom Loeser: Please Please Please
January 20 – May 20, 2018
Organized: Museum of Craft and Design & Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Exhibition Design: Ted Cohen
Guest Curator: Glenn Adamson


In conjunction with Please Please Please the Museum of Craft and Design will present a single-gallery installation by San Francisco-based art collective, t.w.five. Working with just one material — adhesive-backed vinyl — t.w. five focuses largely on the process of weaving intricately repeating patterns of shape and color. Their massively scaled, hand-cut vinyl installations frequently explore culture, diversity and alienation; the project for MCD tackles ideas of intimacy, boundaries and voyeurism. Based on idyllic domestic scenery, the windows of each home depict storylines of characters playing out daily events or tasks as the viewer peeks into the private lives behind the windows, acting as both observer and participant.

The work is made in wood panels, hand cut vinyl, and wood cut outs as a second layer to create a 3D effect. All shapes are hand-cut into strips from large rolls of solid color vinyl, and then carefully applied to the surface of the work. Each work is made up of intricately repeating patterns, which require hours of rigorous work.

The exhibition is made in conjunction with MCD’s Visible Transparency Project, which invites the public to witness the behind-the-scenes installation process.

During the week of install (January 15–19, 2018) t.w.five will be on-site, installing the vinyl and wood panels. Visitors can watch t.w.five creating their installation, are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the artists and to experience the “studio” side of art making.


About t.w.five
San Francisco-based artist collective t.w.five is comprised of Swedish artist Pernilla Andersson and Brazilian artist Paula Periera. Formed in 2010, t.w.five is the recipient of 2012 and 2017 SFMOMA SECA awards and have had artist residencies at The Headlands Center for the Arts and Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder in Norway. Their work has been exhibited in local and international galleries including Canada College Art Gallery, Palo Alto and Babel Gallery, Norway. Their work is in the collections of Facebook, Google One Market and GoDaddy. Both hold MFAs from San Jose State University.

t.w. five
January 20 – May 20, 2018
Organized by: Museum of Craft and Design

Media Contact: Wendy Norris, Norris Communications
(415) 307-3853 or




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