The stage is set for the 23rd edition of the Philadelphia Furniture Show, which runs April 1-2 at the 23rd Street Armory, in Philadelphia. The guiding principle of this year’s event is diversity, with a wide range of offerings from new and established furniture makers from across the region. One of the noteworthy pieces at this year’s edition is William Castonia’s Wave, which offers “a glimpse of a force from nature,” in the words of the artist. The low table is made with a meandering ribbon of white ash supporting a thick-tempered, surfboard-shaped glass.

William Castonia, Wave - Low Table, with white ash and thick-tempered glass. Offered by Castonia Woodworks (Ludington, Mich.).

“My vision is to have as many wonderful voices as possible,” says Stefa Normantas, one of the show producers. “Everyone on the floor is at the top of their craft. This is a place for people who share a love for arts and furniture and are looking to push the edges of the field. A piece of furniture at this show could become someone’s cherished heirloom. These are pieces to pass down from generation to generation.”


David Lee Moneypenny, Boss, I Hit a Tree!, with the door of a F150 pickup truck, reclaimed Brazilian cherry and other found materials. From Crashed Furniture (East Hampton, Conn.).

Among the notables at this year’s show are Rachel David, known for using forged materials in unorthodox combinations; Ted Saxerud, a connoisseur of the simple, elegant line; and David Lee Moneypenny, who converts salvaged materials from car crashes into playful pieces of furniture that reflect a range of influences, from Bob Dylan to Jasper Johns to Robert Rauschenberg. In Boss, I Hit a Tree!, which is built around the door of an F150 pickup truck, the artist “tells the story of a bad day on the road,” as he explains in the Designer Look Book. The piece is a study in contrasts, combining a mutilated door with meticulously carved wooden elements: a small drawer box made from reclaimed Brazilian cherry and reclaimed red birch, angled drawers that roll out on small wooden wheels, a top piece embellished with cherry slates that simulate the side boards of the truck, and, for good measure, four file drawers.

“I like the sense of humor that is outside of the box, an edgy sarcasm with a little bite,” he says. “[My work integrates] salvaged crumpled metal, reclaimed wood, found raw materials, bark, rotted wood, and broken rocks used in unconventional ways. These salvaged and found raw materials have a history, a prior life, or an event that changed their form... Using common materials in uncommon and unexpected ways draws the viewer in, forcing them to deal with materials totally foreign to each other, objects not in their proper place, an out-of-order look.”

The festivities will kick off with a performance by Counterparts, a co-ed acappella group at the University of Pennsylvania, and a ceremonial splitting of a log with a two-person gang saw. (At last year’s event, the saw was operated by the furniture-maker Sarah Marriage and Mira Nakashima, daughter of George Nakashima.)

Rachel David, Side Table, with a reclaimed wooden table top, a soft close drawer and curved legs with copper details. Offered by Red Metal (New Orleans, La.)

Rob Hare, Happy Feet, with figured ash wood and hand-forged aluminum. Offered by Rob Hare - Maker of Things (Ulster Park, N.Y.).

Inside the 23rd Street Armory, a crenellated fortress that is home to the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, some eighty exhibitors will display their wares, including Jeffrey Oh Woodworking (Olney, Md.), Pandemic Design Studio (Chesterbrook, Pa.), Red Metal (New Orleans, La.), Marc Digiaimo Design/Build (Philadelphia), Rob Hare - Maker of Things (Ulster Park, N.Y.), The Bazis Collection (Philadelphia), Peter Handler (Philadelphia) and Bok Read Woodworking (Media, Pa.).

The joint winners of this year’s Emerging Artist Competition are the Newton, Pennsylvania-based fabricator Julia Michalski and Justin Seow, currently a junior at the Rhode Island School of Design. This is the first time the award has been given to more than one furnituremaker, reflecting the strength of the emerging artisans at this year’s event. Both Michalski and Seow will receive a booth on the floor.

The Philadelphia Furniture Show runs April 1-2 at the 23rd Street Armory, 22 South 23rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For more information, call 215.387.8590 (Green Tree Events) or visit


Click here for our coverage of last year’s event.