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It’s furniture, it’s art: Lewis’ tulip chairs.

Out of the Woods, Into the Limelight

The April issue of Architectural Digest, that hefty, high-gloss bible of design, has Diane Keaton on the cover. But more interestingly for local design mavens is who’s on page 173: That’s Troy wood sculptor Jim Lewis, owner of Icarus Furniture. Lewis is just visible within the doorway of the photograph of his Fourth Street shop; along with the shop’s exterior shot, the page includes two pictures of tables, “a cherry lamp table with walnut accents” and a “square birch table with a curly maple top, Adirondack inspired.” The feature, titled “Out of the Woods,” includes a paragraph on Lewis and his “intriguing array of uniquely crafted pieces using native American and exotic hardwoods.”

“It’s a real honor,” says Lewis of his inclusion in the publication, which is considered a top arbiter of design talent. “I was pretty thrilled, we got a full page, and that’s the most you can get in that feature. It’s called Discoveries by Designers, and it looks really good.”

Lewis was recommended to the magazine by nationally lauded interior designer Naomi Leff. Lewis explains that Leff had an idea for chairs with tulips, but she couldn’t find anyone who was able make them for her. She was put in contact with Lewis by a decorative painter who is related to Lewis’ friend and neighbor, dance choreographer Ellen Sinopoli. The painter told Leff “we could do anything,” says Lewis. Lewis made a prototype, brought it to Leff in New York City, and then built the finished product (pictured) incorporating Leff’s suggestions. “She just loved them,” he reports, adding that the chairs went to a 13,000-square-foot beachfront penthouse in Naples, Fla. The owners were so pleased with the chairs that they ordered a table from Lewis, who made them a “ribbon table” based on an antique Chinese writing desk.

“Naomi was amazing,” says Lewis of Leff, who died in January. “She had really good design sense; she knew what had to happen in the room, and how to get it.”

Following Leff’s recommendation, a photographer from the magazine spent an entire day at Icarus last December, “and we spent the next three months guessing what pictures they were going to use,” Lewis says. “They picked pieces that show the left and right ends of what we do—and we do a lot. The art nouveau lamp table is a sculptural piece and it comes off the page well, it’s got interesting lines.” Although Icarus has always done art furniture, Lewis and his four employees are better known for creating sacred furnishings for places of worship (most recently, a set of intarsia Stations of the Cross for St. Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville). But that may be changing. Lewis happily reports that since the April AD hit the stands, his phone has been ringing off the hook, and that he’s talking to designers “from Miami to Anchorage.”

—Ann Morrow


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