I remember the first time I saw a miniature table by Paris Renfroe. It was sleek and clean and sat glowing like a little sculpture in a gallery. Everything about it was far above anything I had seen in the mini design world. I was intimidated by his sophisticated web site. Clearly he was a leader in the field. Then the lust set in, the desire for the most cutting edge of designs for MY mini house.
Noguchi Table in Cherry (photo: CM)
Last year, in Sept. 2009, Midwest Home Magazine named him "Best Mini Modernist". They attributed his following of "true scale to give a full scale appearance" as the key to his beautiful objects. This may be because Paris Renfroe began as a full scale furniture designer and brings his expertise to the smaller scale.
I was able to meet Paris and his wife, Lisa this summer when they came to California for the Design Within Reach exhibit of miniature design in San Francisco. They live in Minnesota where Paris has a workshop and Lisa owns a software company. They're a true collaboration. There was no reason for me to be intimidated as they are a charming and down to earth couple.
Lobo Coffee Table, Alex Sectional Seating
I appreciate antique dollhouse furniture. A Schneegas chair makes me swoon. A Gottschalk bookcase makes my head spin, they are things of beauty. I think I react this way because my first contact with doll house furniture was holding warm wooden Ginny doll furniture. It was abruptly replaced by cold little plastic mass produced pieces by Marx and then that was replaced by cardboard Barbie House furniture which I had to struggle to assemble and as a result always looked rumpled. That was my girlhood experience with dollhouse furniture. My adult experience is much more gratifying.
M.U.T.T. Lounge Chair & Artwork by Lisa Renfroe
Paris Renfroe furniture is in the category of Schneegas and Gottschalk in my opinion. True craftsmanship. It is my understanding that the first dollhouses were made by cabinetmakers and furniture craftsman. Paris brings this same knowledge of his craft to his work.
His creativity seems endless. I especially like his serpentine shelves. I want them in full scale. How appropriate would they be to showcase my dollhouse collection? He is just 38 years old. He credits his parents with recognizing as a child that he was an artist and nurturing his development. He and Lisa have developed a special bond. She influences his masculine style and now I understand why his web site was so elegant! Her work, I think. He seem to just be beginning to tap his wells of creativity.
Efficiency Kitchen (photo: CM) Hatbox Toilet, Single Vanity and Shower Stall Unit
Paris is one of the few designers who designs both furniture and the houses they go in. No wonder he knows how to create harmony between building and furniture. Another of his creations is his "Pod". This independent structure modeled after a shipping freight container can be arranged in any construction giving the mini owner a hand in the design. What more could we ask for? It has been very popular and was showcased this summer at the the West Coast Exhibit at Design Within Reach in San Francisco of mini designers.
With the growing appreciation of mini modern design more items are being produced. And Paris has been asked to develop some of his miniature designs in full scale. His workshop's "tilt shift table" (below) is now available for purchase. This interplay between miniature design and full scale is exciting. The back and forth propelling each field to greater heights.
Uh oh, that lust for great design is raising it's head again...
If this has whetted your appetite for Paris' miniatures, they can be seen and ordered on his new online store, PRD Miniatures .
Photos © Paris Renfroe