Upholstered furniture designer Anne Beard brings scenes of the American West to life on a unique canvas.
When Anne Beard transitioned from clothing design to creating upholstered furniture, she told a friend, “It’s furniture wearing clothes.” Beard often collaborates with woodworkers to build the furniture frames that sport her American West scenes brought to life through wool gabardine appliqué, pleats, and leather fringe and tassels. For each functional art piece, Beard first envisions the art — the form — and then decides what type of furniture — the functional canvas — suits the art.
“I sit still and look around for inspiration. I live in the high desert of Eastern Oregon in a working ranch community — a lot of cowboys, cowgirls, ranches, and cattle. I’m inspired by anything of the West, whether it is the romanticized Western vignette or the natural landscape of trees, wildlife, and flowers.”
“I collaborate frequently with other members, specifically woodworkers, and I love that process. Artisans tend to work in isolation. The BWH brings us together. The process is the broad spectrum of conceiving, sketching, selecting fabric colors and furniture style, and actually making a piece through cutting fabrics and sewing. I only create one-of-a-kind pieces, because I have so many more ideas for designs. I keep a folder stacked with sketches. The worst thing you can do creatively is to repeat your design. It would take all the fun out of it.
“A design I’ve wanted to create for a while is my current project: a wastebasket with each of its four sides showcasing aspen trees in each season. Another member, John Gallis, built the frame for the Four Season Aspen wastebasket.”
Furthering The Craft
“My mom was a fearless seamstress. She would tackle any and every project. All the best clothes worn by my sister and me, as youngsters, were made by my mom. One summer, she enrolled me in a sewing class in town. I was not at all interested. I wanted to be back home on the ranch, out with the horses. When I left home, my mom wasn’t there to make every one-of-a-kind clothing piece that I could think of, or that she could think of. That’s when I decided I needed to learn to sew.
“I’m sorry to say that fewer and fewer people learn to sew. It’s rarely taught in school. I host 4-H groups occasionally in my studio. Most people don’t care to learn. I have heard people say they didn’t buy a jacket because the sleeves were too long. I would have just taken out the hem and turned up the sleeves. Sewing is such a skill to take forward into your life.”
Photography: (All images) courtesy Anne Beard
From our July 2021 issue