An Interview

Fred Baier calls himself a furniture artist rather than craftsman, although craftsmanship plays an important role in the creation of his unusual, highly contemporary-style pieces. His furniture is often complex and visually challenging and Baier explains, ‘ In everything I make there are all sorts of different layers – imagery, narrative, structure and use.’

On your website you say ‘the best artists are warriors on superhero missions.’ What is your artistic mission?
I suppose I try to be a man of my time. I try to make new objects that are synonymous with the now and that contribute to the look of the moment. I would like someone to be able to look at an object I made in, say, the 1990s and be able to tell immediately that it is a 90s piece - in the same way that the mini skirt is very 1960s. I don’t believe that objects can be timeless and I am forever changing my approach and my influences so the look of my objects moves on.

What attracted you to furniture making?
I fell into it because I was good with my hands, and at school my teacher advised me that the way to add value to my woodworking talent was by going to Art College. I studied furniture design and found I could bring woodworking and art together in my furniture pieces. I like the idea of making objects that have a function – art for art’s sake is not something that I feel very comfortable doing.

Are you happy to use computers in your work?
You couldn’t get me off them in the 1980s when they were like weird science fiction machines. I was a guinea-pig user when the first 3D-modelling programmes were being developed by men with thick glasses in white coats and from the late 80s through to the early 90s my work was all about computer modeling and CAD. I was one of the very first to design, develop and machine the parts for a piece. Now I use them like everyone else for manipulating and presenting ideas and to make working drawings and templates. I see them as just another tool in the bag or rather another whole bag of tools. These days they are all-pervasive and I find them rather annoying – invasive even – but indispensable.

Where do you get the ideas for your furniture from?
I like the whole issue of transference of imagery and ideas from other worlds and disciplines into mine - for example, engineering, motor racing and architecture. They are areas where people are making iconic statements using fresh new ideas. Having moved to the country I now also look to the natural world for inspiration. For example the structure behind plants. Then there are all those shapes and forms in the oceans which appear streamlined and futuristic. And I steal imagery from the science photo library.