PaperCity Magazine

June 2018- Dallas

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43 crazy for his white plaster pieces — he's done lighting for former Architectural Digest editor Margaret Russell, and a table for World of Interiors American editor Carol Prisant. He also regularly collaborates on projects with high-profile designers such as Amanda Nisbet, for whom he made a giant sea-coral chandelier with 160 LEDs. He recently finished a 44-inch chandelier for Miles Redd. "Miles keeps me really busy," he says. "He likes to amp up the color in his projects, and he often throws a big white plaster piece in the middle of all that. The effect is amazing." Antonson vividly remembers his first commission from Michael S. Smith 10 years ago. "I got a call in the middle of the night from Michael, and he said, 'Hey, I just saw this Queen Anne tea table at Christie's that's perfect. Do you think we could make a pair in plaster?'" Antonson quickly sketched the tables from photos from the auction c a t a l o g , found a seasoned carver in Maine to make the wood bases, then painstakingly painted the tables in plaster with a brush, sculpting and sanding in between layers. The finished tables were shipped to Barack and Michelle Obama's private residence at the White House. The commission encouraged Antonson to think about how to use the ancient medium of plaster — a simple material made from gypsum and water — in nontraditional ways. "What I loved about the tables is their very historic American profile; instead of being in brown wood, we modernized them in all white," he says. The chalky white substance was also the medium of choice for some of the early 20th- century's most noted designers, including Serge Roche, Jean- Michel Frank, and Alberto and Diego Giacometti. In the 1960s, John Dickinson used plaster to sculpt his hooved and footed furniture designs. Antonson looks to these original masters of plaster for inspiration, but lately his influences have come from the natural realm. His Shackleton collection of tables and lighting resemble icy ledges or cracked ice, and are named in honor of early polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. "Glaciers are nature's sculpture," says Antonson, who collects antique photographs of glaciers and is inspired by iceberg paintings he sees in museums, including Frederick Church's masterpiece in the Dallas Museum of Art. Antonson employs trained artists and architects to assist him, and there's always experimentation going on. "We have a big table set up in the studio called 'What if' — it's where our research and development goes on, where we just try stuff," he says. Nest Studio has recently tasked him with designing a line of plaster drawer pulls, and Antonson has been experimenting with designs for plaster necklaces and for thin vessels similar to Venini's handkerchief vases. Unlike early examples of plaster furniture and lighting, which cracked easily, Antonson reinforces his pieces with an underlying armature of wood or iron, which gives the plaster strength. All of his plaster works bear the artist's hand, with chisel, rasp, and sandpaper marks. "More and more people are having cheap plaster pieces made in China that have no character," he says. "But there's a whole sculptural aspect to what I do that's imperfect and a little crusty. When people are paying $10,000 to $20,000 for a chandelier, it's a whole different category — it needs to look like the artist just put his tools down and walked away from it." Orion lantern Plaster artist Stephen Antonson. Portrait by Matt Carr. Room by Alyssa Kapito Interiors with Antonson's Earle chandelier Room by Neal Beckstedt Studio with James pendant by Stephen Antonson by Hand Shard table Macklin center table

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