Sculptural objects in solid wood
Christopher Norman is a Los Angeles-based artist creating formal objects for living.
Norman’s large-scale wooden artworks begin first as gestural drawings, and spontaneity and the hand are critical to his practice. Having worked with his hands his whole life, Norman doesn’t use computer-aided machinery, instead deploying industrial machines from the 1940s. With these devices, he is able to explore the connections between the body, plant-based materials, and industrial tools. Crafting from single segments of unglued wood weighing as much as 1,000 pounds, each sculptural element is a snapshot of the tree it came from. Rather than building forms, as one might in architecture or additive manufacture, Norman finds form in subtraction, cutting away matter to reveal a final shape which is discovered through the process. In the spirit of a circular economy that begins when working with arborists to source trees slated for removal, the cast-off wood goes to urban farmers located throughout L.A.
Though they deny typical furniture’s legible functional affordances, Norman’s objects are designed to be part of the home, to be touched and used. Referencing fundamental and enduring forms that humans have returned to time and time again, research is at the core of Norman’s practice. In addition to being trained as an architect, he has been a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome, where he investigated ancient homes. Looking to domestic objects of antiquity as well as to contemporary industrial and mass-produced elements, Norman seeks out the commonalities in design history, leveraging universal shapes to render objects at once surprising and familiar.
Norman’s formal objects can be found in residences across North America and Europe, and he works closely with architectural and design partners to integrate his formal objects into thoughtful domestic landscapes.