WACKY WEAR for rooms has descended on the Renwick Gallery in the form of handcrafted furniture. Among the 24 pieces: a leather throne with multicolored legs and silk streamers; a high- xise wardrobe, "The Great Art Deco Furniture Explosion!" with purple drawers that open on a slant; a coffee table pyramid crowned by a cup and saucer; and "Dress Her," a combination ball gown and liquor cabinet.
Unusual but usable, they have a common ingredient -- Colorcore, a laminating material that's the same color throughout. It comes in a universe of colors, and, because its edges don't have to be painted or hidden, has all sorts of decorative possibilities.
In 1983, the Gallery at Workbench, a New York furniture chain, challenged 19 woodworkers to make something with Formica's new Colorcore. The response is this show, "Material Evidence: New Color Techniques in Handmade Furniture."
"Material evidence" is a bit misleading: There's no mystery to solve here, except how a couple of items slipped in. One "sculpture," for want of a better word, called "Welcome Vase," is a long stem of Colorcore topped with an artificial flower. The "vase" stands on one of those fake-grass doormats with daisy.
A classical "Armoire" is more tasteful -- though you'd wonder where to put it. It looks like a mausoleum. Made from birch, plywood, maple, aromatic cedar and, of course, Colorcore, the armoire holds clothes under its arch; from the base of its two columns slide out cedar-lined drawers. The Colorcore has been made to look aged and peeling.
Another imaginative treatment of a traditional idea is "Hall Piece," a copy of a Victorian seat. With storage places for boots and umbrellas, the seat is updated with a colorful, intricate latticework of Colorcore. Apparently, Colorcore can bend, and even be woven.
Tastes terrible, though.
MATERIAL EVIDENCE: NEW COLOR TECHNIQUES IN HANDMADE FURNITURE -- At the Renwick Gallery through September 22.