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Wells Mason (born 1968 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American designer and sculptor.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. In 1996, he founded his studio, Ironwood Industries, in Austin, Texas. In 1999, he moved his studio to Coupland, Texas. He opened his gallery, Wells Mason Gallery, in 2011 in Austin, Texas. He currently divides his time between Coupland and Austin.
Mason's furniture designs are typically associated with the Studio Furniture movement. Sometimes functional, sometimes not, his furniture combines seemingly disparate materials, like exquisite veneer or recycled wood coupled with forged or salvaged steel.
Mason's sculptures, on the other hand, are generally associated with Postmodernism and, more specifically, the Postminimalist art movement. His sculptures reference the clean lines and simple forms of Minimalism, but with an intellectual component that explores a particular idea or comments on a specific moment in time.
Architects such as I. M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Eric Own Moss, and Samuel Mockbee have influenced Mason's approach to furniture design. He further cites artists Isamu Noguchi and Donald Judd, poets Rumi and Pablo Neruda, and baseball player Yogi Berra as other sources of inspiration.
- The Mirror Series (2012 – Present): This sculpture series uses simple shapes and colors in opposition in order to suggest different degrees of self-awareness and mental health.
- The Umasi Collection (2005 – Present): This collection blurs the line between furniture and sculpture.
- The BigLittle Series (2008 – Present): This furniture series is playfully named for its union of large and small volumes.
Mason regularly works on special projects for high-profile clients, such as the Austin Children's Museum, Louis Vuitton, The Wall Street Journal, and Steven Holl Architects. In 2005, his studio was commissioned to make the built-in furniture for Turbulence House in northern New Mexico.
- 2012: "Seeing is Believing" Exhibit at the Wells Mason Gallery in Austin, Texas.
- 2009: "New American Talent" Exhibit at the Jones Center for Contemporary Art in Austin, Texas.
- 2009: "Transformations 7" Exhibit at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- 2008: "The Umasi Collection: Incidental Furniture Design" Exhibit at Gensler in New York, New York.
- 2008: "CraftTexas 2008" Exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas.
- 2008: "Modern+Design+Function" Exhibit at Design Within Reach in Austin, Texas. The BigLittle Series was awarded 'Best Overall Design'.
- 2007: "Smithsonian Craft Show" at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The Umasi Collection was awarded "Excellence in Design of the Future"
- 2006: "New American Talent" Exhibit at the Jones Center for Contemporary Art in Austin, Texas
- 2006: Texas Commission on the Arts selects Wells Mason as a "Texas Original" artists.
- Wells Mason's "Big White Little Red" table from the BigLittle Series was featured in the book: '500 Tables' (2010) by Ray Hemachandra and Andrew Glasgow. Mason's "Big Black" credenza, also from the BigLittle Series, was featured in another of The 500 Series of books, titled: '500 Cabinets' (2009) by Ray Hemachandra and John Grew Sheridan.
- Jensen, Amira (2011-09-25). "Furniture? Sculpture? Both". The Sun (Georgetown, TX). p. 5B.
Although Mason studied English at the University of Texas, that dock chair sparked his career in sculpture and furniture making. He opened Ironwood Industries in Austin in 1996 and moved it out to Coupland at the end of 1999.
- Cardemartori, Lorraine. "Wells Mason: The Umasi Collection Reimagines the Familiar" (online & print). March 2011 issue: Forbes Life. p. 40. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- Camplin, Todd. "Wells Mason Gallery". ModAustin. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
In the tradition of minimalists like Donald Judd, Mason keeps the work simple, but Mason steps away from the past through painting the surface and adding geometric space, hidden between his forms.
- Gerlach, Pat (Mar–Apr 2006). "Architecture Lays Foundation for Furniture Design". Fine Furnishings International.
He says that the work of architects such as IM Pei, Philip Johnson, Eric Owen Moss, and Samuel Mockbee have influenced his approach to furniture design.
- "An Interview with Wells Mason: Furniture Designer". Area of Design. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
I find inspiration everywhere. Artists like Noguchi and Judd. Architects like Mockbee and Pawson. Poets like Rumi and Neruda. Thinkers like Walter Gropius and Buckminster Fuller. And Yogi Berra.
- Osterbout, Mandy (May 2007). "Wells Made". bRILLIANT (Texas).
- Pearson, Clifford (April 2005). "Projects". Architectural Record. p. 187.
- Carbone, Christopher (July 2008). "Green Pioneers". Tribeza (Austin Tx). p. 40.
The Umasi bench will be on display this summer in New York City at architecture mega firm Gensler, which opened a location in Austin earlier this year.
- Hemachandra, Ray; Andrew Glasgow (2009). 500 Tables. Lark Books NC. p. 14. ISBN 9781600590573.
- Hemachandra, Ray; John Grew Sheridan (2010). 500 Cabinets. Lark Crafts. p. 192. ISBN 9781600595752.