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Daily Hampshire Gazette
Living  Section

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

joel-art-deco-chair
art-deco-inlay

Details of Inlay and veneers on one of Joel Liebman's tables

GRAND

DESIGNS

CHISEL

Joel Liebman wipes down one of his Art Deco chairs after removing imperfections that resulted from lacquer finishing.

Joel Liebman's Art Deco Furniture recalls times of past.

Photos and Text By Jerrey Roberts

      On a sunny Monday afternoon early this month, Joel Liebman of Hadley resembles an Old World furniture maker in his window lit studio at One Cottage Street, a former mill building in Easthampton. He sands an Art Deco style chair, his ever present dogs Ginger and Avery lingering about, as sawdust and the music of Johnny Cash fill the air.

    Liebman, a Long Island native, has been making custom furniture since 1989, when he enrolled in the Genoa School of Furniture Design in Genoa,  N.Y.  It was a turning point in his life.

     Disinterested in formal education, Liebman says, he had dropped out of the State University of New York at New Paltz.  With no career in mind, he took jobs in a print shop and a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y. "In my late 20s desperation sank in," he recalls. "What am I going to do?"

      He decided to attend a public lecture at Genoa.

"The bug really hit me," says Liebman. "The smell and the atmosphere.
The wood in the hallways. Here was a community I could be a part of."

      After graduating from Genoa, he moved to Western Massachusetts in 1993. He worked for furniture maker Alan Lorn for a couple of weeks in the same studio Liebman now occupies at One Cottage Street, but Lorn decided he didn't have enough work and moved to Philadelphia, Liebman rented the studio and started his own business. He later bought Lorn's equipment.

      Five years ago, Chris Schneider of Hudson saw Liebman's work at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough and commissioned several pieces in the Art Deco style. "Antique Art Deco pieces are too large for our home," says Schneider.

    Liebman had never worked in the Art Deco style, but together, he and Schneider tailored pieces the furniture maker would craft. "We faxed designs back and forth. He gave me a chance to explore my own personal sense of creativity," says Schneider.

      In addition to posting photos of the results on his Web site, Liebman made some sample pieces for shows and he began receiving more requests for Art Deco furniture. Now, about 60 percent of his work is done in the Art Deco style. He wishes it were 90 percent.

      "It invokes thoughts or memories of things," says Liebman, describing the style from 1930s Hollywood movies, "things people think of as classy. We live in an era where we have none of that. It has to come from artists."

      Liebman conceives his designs by studying the style, then adapting and introducing Art Deco motifs in the piece, often by using inlays and contrasting veneers.

    The final result is high-end furniture that starts at about $1,200 for a simple coffee or end table. A recently completed drop-front desk is priced at $4,800.

      "The kind of work I do is for upper middle-class and wealthy people," says Liebman. "I often wish that wasn't true. If people only knew the amount of work and attention to detail. I've got to the point where I'm very good at it."

Liebman uses hand chisel on the keystone detail of a chairs front rail. Below he studies his drawings for his Art Deco chair.

drawing
game table chairs

Liebman designed and built this Art Deco game table and matching chairs in his studio at one Cottage Street. Easthampton

All pieces shown are available for "Custom" reproduction including

dimensions, choice of woods and even design.
Joel would be happy to work with you to design the exact piece you are looking for.

For Price List Click Here.

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updated

June.

2016

contact Info:    Joel Liebman Furniture  8 Plaza Ave. Easthampton Ma.   413-527-6320

Email for questions and Prices: 

Joel@JLFurniture.com

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