The Gallery of Original Furniture


Speaking of Furniture: Conversations with 14 American Masters
Cover: Richard Scott Newman, Umbrella Stand, 1984 (detail).
Pearwood, ebony, and ormolu, 32 in. high x 14 in. diameter (81.28 x 35.56 cm).
Photograph: Northlight Studio.
In 1990-91, Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson interviewed
14 artist-craftsmen whose work was pivotal to the gallery in its first decade.
These conversations have been made into a book,
Speaking of Furniture: Conversations with 14 American Masters,
published by The Artist Book Foundation [New York, NY: November, 2013].
In their words, James Krenov, Wendell Castle, Jere Osgood, Judy Kensley McKie,
David Ebner, Richard Scott Newman, Hank Gilpin, Alphonse Mattia,
John Dunnigan, Wendy Maruyama, James Schriber, Timothy Philbrick,
Michael Hurwitz, and Thomas Hucker
tell why they do what they do and why they chose
furniture as a vehicle for artistic expression.
The book contains more than 330 color plates and 48 halftones.

"This book brings together some of the most intelligent and dedicated voices in American furniture history, and also provides a valuable narrative of the field's most prominent gallery. Indispensable for anyone who cares about the recent past of handmade furniture,
or its near future."
-- Glenn Adamson, Director, Museum of Arts & Design, New York, NY

"The impassioned voices of 14 makers bring to life the issues of the studio furniture field, from isolation to analysis of form to comparison with other arts. Led by the wise questions of the owners of the country's major art-furniture gallery, their stories create a thought-provoking, sometimes Roshomon-like portrait of the growth and development -- and personalities --
of this creative movement. It's an important history and a great read!"
-- Janet Koplos, co-author (with Bruce Metcalf), Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, University of North Carolina Press, 2010; former Senior Editor, Art in America.

"It comes as no surprise that the progenitors of today's studio furniture movement have,
after three decades of successful leadership,
now launched such a grand summing up -- a history that will become history."
-- Jack Lenor Larsen, President Emeritus, American Craft Council, Hon. RDI

"The images in the book record the gorgeous stillness of the object. In the absence of the narratives of the makers, those images could pass for an entirely different story.
This book is about a lot of things, chief of which is that the personal explorations articulated here comprise a deeply humanist introduction to what might be called an 'auteur' furniture
of the late 20th early-21st centuries."
-- Joan Retallack, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

"Speaking of Furniture sets out to celebrate the extraordinary creativity and skill of those who have led the drive in the United States to make furniture a cogent expression of our time."
-- John Makepeace, Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Furniture Society 2014 Award of Distinction
Bebe & Warren Johnson
Photo: Sabine Hindra

The Furniture Society is proud to announce
the 2014 Award of Distinction Honorees,
Warren & Bebe Johnson

The 2014 Award of Distinction was presented to Bebe & Warren Johnson by Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez at the Furniture Society's 18th Annual Conference
in Port Townsend, Washington.

Notes from Andrew Glasgow, past Director of The Furniture Society
and the American Craft Council, about this year's honorees:

The dynamic duo being recognized with this year's Furniture Society Award of Distinction is the inimitable Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson. I think it is safe to say that without Bebe and Warren it is unlikely that there would be a Furniture Society as we know it. I know I would have never been on the radar without Bebe's encouragement.
I owe her a great deal.

Most of us know Bebe and Warren as the thoughtful, careful, and intentional owners of Pritam & Eames, the nation's premier gallery for Studio Furniture. One wonders, however, what brought them to this point.

Warren and Bebe both studied philosophy early in their academic careers. After receiving her Master's degree in Communications from Boston University, Bebe would begin her real-world career and become Director, Asian Program Operations at the Council on International Educational Exchange in New York. Warren studied law and received a LLB from the University of Illinois, and pursued graduate economics at MIT. His career took a turn, however, when the Johnsons moved to New York, and he ended up studying film at Columbia University where he received an MFA. Warren co-authored a book on film production, taught film at various institutions including Columbia, and was cameraman/editor on a number of internationally-based documentaries. After an interesting and successful decade, Warren and Bebe decided it was time for a change. 

So, following the likes of De Kooning, Pollack and Larsen, they decamped to East Hampton, a bit before the glitterati of the ‘80s and ‘90s and, in another turn of career, carved out a life dedicated to craft: educating and offering to the public -- a public that sought them out in a historic old steam laundry building in East Hampton that became Pritam & Eames -- an opportunity to acquire and live with this work. For the last 33 years, Pritam & Eames has existed, both powerfully and quietly, out in Long Island for a very appreciative public. 

Bebe and Warren were not satisfied with just selling the best studio furniture, they were also ambitious to contribute to the growing body of literature about this decorative arts field. This ambition led to conversations with makers and other intelligent aficionados that resulted in the publication of their book, Speaking of Furniture: Conversations with 14 American Masters [The Artist Book Foundation, 2013].  

Personally, I can't imagine anyone more deserving of the Award of Distinction than Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson. They built and crafted a business that has sustained them, given a boost to grateful makers, and played an important part in building the dialogue that underpins today's studio furniture movement.

Past recipients include Sam Maloof, James Krenov, Tage Frid,
Wendell Castle, Art Espenet Carpenter, John Makepeace, Alan Peters, Jere Osgood,
Jonathan Fairbanks, William Keyser, Garry Knox Bennett, Judy Kensley McKie, Tommy Simpson, Michael Fortune, Walker Weed, Wendy Maruyama, Vladimir Kagan,
John Cederquist, and Roseanne Somerson

East Hampton, New York 11937



Design by Diana Zadarla