‘Simply Different’ exhibition opens in UMSL’s Gallery 210 later this month

"Martini Time," 2015, by Peter Voss

Peter Voss employs simple lines and restrained detail, allowing the wood material itself to be the focus of his designs. “Martini Time,” made of cherry, curly birch and ash, is one of 35 pieces that will be on display at UMSL beginning Jan. 27. (Photo by Matt Harrer)

“Keep it simple, build it to last and let nature provide the beauty.” That’s how St. Louis furniture designer Peter Voss sums up his approach to his work, which will soon be in the spotlight at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Thirty-five of Voss’ pieces comprise “Simply Different: The Furniture of Peter Voss,” Gallery 210’s first exhibition of 2018. All of them were created in his workshop in downtown St. Louis, where he employs simple lines and restrained detail, allowing the wood material itself to be the focus of the work.

“A signature element of Voss’ work is his careful and tasteful incorporation of the knots, mineral stains or other natural occurrences into the design of his furniture,” explains Terry Suhre, director of Gallery 210. “He draws inspiration from great furniture builders of the past such as Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, George Hepplewhite, Alvar Alto and George Nakashima.”

Voss, who also cites federal, Sheraton, deco and mid-century modern influences, will be on campus at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 for an opening slide lecture in the Gallery 210 Auditorium. A reception with the artist will follow.

The exhibition, which runs through March 17, is part of an ongoing series of programs dedicated to contemporary design in St. Louis and made possible through support from the Missouri Arts Council as well as university sponsors.

Voss grew up in a small South Dakota town in the 1950s and drew his earliest design lessons from his mother, a ceramics artist, and an older cousin who emigrated from Germany to stay with Voss’ family and work as a cabinetmaker. Then, during college at Saint Louis University, Voss became acquainted with a master woodworker and worked at the Artichoke Table, a small woodshop in Webster Groves, Missouri.

After graduation, he joined his family to form Good Stuff, a contemporary furniture retailer in Webster Groves, and for a decade worked in the custom woodshop, traveling nationally and internationally to furniture shows and factories. It was during this time that he began his furniture-design career.

Prior to retiring, he worked for Peterson Group, selling high-design commercial furniture for health-care and government uses. Now Voss can most often be found in his downtown workshop designing new pieces.

The Jan. 27 event is free and open to the public, as is the exhibition, which runs through March 17. For more information, visit the Gallery 210 website.

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