Peter Shire's recent chairs will be the subject of an exhibition at Frank Lloyd Gallery from October 20 through November 24. Shire's chairs are colorful, bold, and playful—yet retain the innovative design for which he is well known. Part artist, part architect, and part designer, Shire continues the inventive work of the avant-garde designer, outside the mainstream of industry. His sculptural chairs, often fanciful flights of the mind, make wide ranging connections to popular culture, early aerospace and classic modernism. Based in a kind of modified Bauhaus aesthetic, Shire's often humorous work demonstrates a thorough knowledge of materials and design history.
Since the 1970's, Peter Shire (b. 1947) has been working at an intersection. Where craft, fine art, and industrial design collide, he has built his career, drawing freely from each area without taking any of it too seriously. He has had forays into architecture, furniture, and ceramic sculpture. The recent chairs continue Shire's blend of influences, boldly presenting planes of color, visible structure and balanced tension.
Shire's early work attracted the eye of Ettore Sottsass, one of the founders of Memphis, an international design movement that came out of Italy during the 1980's. Sottsass found Shire's work "fresh, witty, and full of information for the future", and the members of Memphis agreed. The group, which sought to revitalize design by rejecting conventional standards in favor of a bold, colorful, novel approach to product design, invited Shire to Milan to work with them. This lead to a series of projects that toyed with the intersections of industrial design and fine art, and gave Shire the opportunity to work in glass, metal and other new mediums. It was during his work with the Memphis group that Shire designed his best known chair. The "Bel Air Chair" was prominently featured in exhibits about the Memphis design group. It was also published in Charlotte and Peter Fiell's landmark book, "1000 Chairs".
Since the Memphis years, Shire's work has continued to expand. Drawing inspiration from his neighborhood in Echo Park and the ever-changing city of Los Angeles, he continues to make painted steel sculpture, ceramic sculpture, works on paper, and painting. In addition to this work, Shire has done various commissions for public places and private buildings throughout Los Angeles.