Craftsman Jeff Engel seems to be something of an eccentric enigma, perhaps not surprising considering the offbeat nature of his furniture designs. Though he has been constructing furniture for over a decade he has only recently begun showing his work publicly.
He still doesn’t seem to have a website or do much self-promotion online, but we got a chance to speak to him about his cool and unusual pieces.
When asked about his work, he responded that his “design philosophy is to take something ordinary and apply a little defiance of convention, a couple of ‘why-nots’, and keep it surprisingly (and humorously) functional.”
Why not have a bookcase that appears to be falling apart, a cut-and-spliced dresser with staggered drawers or an animated, twisting bookcase?
His pieces are fun and funky but also well-crafted. They answer questions most of us probably don’t think to ask, such as (in his own words): “Why keep your socks in a square box? Who told you that you have to?”
More than just affectation or decoration, his unusual, custom and often curved touches are surprisingly still integrated into the function of each cabinet, chest, bookcase, bookshelf or mirror Jeff works on.
Some pieces are childlike in nature, like a wardrobe that looks like a bundle of balloons (each of which transforms into a dresser drawer when pulled.) Others are a little more sophisticated.
Jeff Engel is showing “at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago July 18-21, Booth 8-7109, where I expect to be discovered, made famous, showered with a big thing of riches, and escape the shackles of my crappy IT job. Plan B is to just stay the same because Mom said Plan A probably won’t happen.”
Probably the best part of his interview for this article, Jeff concluded his response with something one would expect from the creator of these creative works: “Hope this helps. Let me know if you need something more interesting, I’ll make something up.”