Behind the Scenes

Anderson Ranch Reflection

There’s no shortage of artist residency programs, but as a furniture maker, the options are less abundant. Frankly, there just aren’t very many programs that offer high-quality shop access.  Anderson Ranch is one of the select few, and it’s been on my career bucket list ever since I heard about this magical place. 

Around here, it’s just called ‘The Ranch’. Despite the 50+ year history, the heavyweights that roll through on a regular basis, and the international reach, The Ranch somehow manages to keep it’s casual, welcoming vibes. It’s the sort of place you can feel at home after a week. 

For me, there are a couple selling points that made a residency here a no-brainer:

  • The facilities are dreamy 
  • 10-weeks is the perfect length
  • Proximity to outdoor adventure
  • I’d already fallen in love with The Ranch during a summer class in ’15

I arrived with one primary goal: develop a line of furniture. With almost all my day-to-day work being commission-based, I’ve been dreaming for years about creating a line that is entirely my own. I came in with lots of sketches, some models, and a couple prototypes, but there was still a whole lot of work to do. 

The line, which I’m happy to report is nearing completion, is based on the idea of flexible seating. Long story short: I think chairs should be designed to encourage bodily movement. We’re not static, I don’t understand why all our chairs are. 

Any seating design is challenging, but flexible seating adds an element of complexity. The range of motion, the amount of resistance, and the mechanisms to make it work all require extra research and development. The lion’s share of my residency was spent building prototypes, tests, and scale models. Scroll through the photos below to see what I was working on. 

Beyond an opportunity to develop new work, the Residency was a chance for me to slow down and try to establish a better balance. With everything we needed right here on campus (food, supplies, shop space, a bed), the distractions were minimal and there was more time for personal pursuits. Even off campus, everything seems to be close by. I could get a handful of runs in at Snowmass and be in the shop by 10am. Life is good out here. 

Ten-weeks, like any length of time in a wonderful place, goes by fast. The logistics of real life can no longer be put off; crates need to be built, travel plans need to be made. As I start winding down, I took inventory of what my time here has offered. I leave with a solid grasp of the new furniture line, a network of talented artists, a bunch of wonderful memories, and a clearer idea of where my work is heading. 

A residency is a gift of time and focus, and regardless of your career I can’t recommend them enough. 

Jeff Goodwin