Trained in the American traditions of fine woodworking and furniture-making, my practice explores alternative applications for these skills. Being aware of the predominantly straight, white, male history of the field, I resist the common assumption that wood should embody strength and utility. Instead, my pieces embrace the appearance of pliability and dependency, and their primary relationship is not with the viewer but with another object. By adapting to fit architectural conditions, particularly overlooked ones like corners, borders, and edges, my work celebrates its own existence as well as the ancillary spaces it adorns. The dialog between the object and its setting engages our assumptions about the structures around us and whom they serve.
Phoebe Kuo is a woodworker and researcher from San Francisco, currently based in Evanston, Illinois.
After earning a degree in Product Design from Stanford University, Phoebe spent a decade engaged in design research, conducting ethnographic interviews in over three hundred households across a dozen countries, on topics ranging from healthcare to technology to consumer goods.
She began studying woodworking under San Francisco furnituremaker John Sheridan in 2010. In 2013, looking to expand her craft vocabulary, she completed an intensive internship in traditional wooden boatbuilding at The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine. She continued her education in fine woodworking with Laura Mays at The Krenov School, graduating from the 9-month full-time program in 2015.
Since 2013, she has split her time between the field, the University, and the shop: consulting as a design researcher, teaching graduate-level design research techniques at Stanford University, and teaching woodworking at the San Francisco Community Woodshop. This spring, she earned her MFA in Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Please get in touch for collaborations, commissions, or just to say hello.