Meet Furniture Maker Richard Wrightman

April 21, 2022

Last year, designer Richard Wrightman packed up his campaign furniture and moved to Connecticut.

Text by Tovah Martin

 

Richard Wrightman traces the origins of his modern interpretation of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century campaign furniture to two influences: his love of all things military (he grew up with an Army father and then spent three years serving himself), and his fascination with fashion.

After studying clothing design in Los Angeles, Wrightman packed his bags for NYC in 1991, where he designed footwear for three years before transitioning to furniture with a collection of lamps. That’s when a lack of production experience slowed him down—briefly. “Knowing how things are made informs their design,” he explains. So he paid a visit to architectural metal fabricator John Milich. Duly impressed by Wrightman’s portfolio of lamps, Milich recruited him for his company, Product and Design, where Wrightman revved into overdrive. Three and half years later, he was ready to forge his own line of furniture.

Something deep in Wrightman’s core loves the concept of portability. He says he’d prefer a lifestyle that can be dismantled and relocated in a blink, and he’s crafted the furnishings to fulfill that fantasy: much of his collection collapses, folds, or easily disassembles. “I’ve traveled to four continents, but my company is my greatest passion,” he says in explanation of his current stationary status.

Although wanderlust epitomizes campaign, Wrightman is fanatical about not forfeiting quality for mobility. All of his sinuously sculpted pieces, from chairs, armoires, and headboards to blotters, trays, and mirrors, are made to order, and Wrightman crafts each one with an eye toward elegance and the “hand” of a piece. He works with a variety of American and tropical hardwoods, and though the collection includes more than 100 designs, Wrightman always welcomes commissions. Some of those creations, many driven by interior designers, wind up with a spot in the collection.

Last year, after two decades in New York, the wilds of upstate Connecticut, with its easy access to friends and collaborators, called to Wrightman. His 1816 Norfolk farmhouse is a quick car ride to his new studio/warehouse in New Hartford where Richard Wrightman Design is now based. “Everything fell into place,” he says. And isn’t that ease of living what campaign furniture is
all about?

Richard Wrightman Design, New Hartford, richardwrightman.com