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MIAD announces the creation of a Furniture Program Advisory Group to help shape a furniture design curriculum that melds the rich history and traditions of furniture making with the conceptual and technical experimentation of contemporary furniture. It will build on the success of 10 years of award-winning designs by students in MIAD’s furniture electives, and the generosity of the Caxambas Foundation.

Advisory group members

Glenn Adamson, Director of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York

An advocate for the reconsideration of craft as a pervasive cultural force rather than a circumscribed artistic category, Adamson has had a widespread influence on makers as well as craft historians and theorists. He has published several books including The Invention of Craft (V&A, Bloomsbury, 2013), The Craft Reader (Berg, 2010), Thinking Through Craft (V&A, Berg, 2007), and is founding co-editor of the Journal of Modern Craft, a peer-reviewed academic journal. He has collaborated with the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) on previous projects, contributing academic essays to catalogues that accompanied the exhibitions Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta (2012) and Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design (2011). He also curated Gord Peteran: Furniture Meets Its Maker, which was presented at MAD in 2009.

Prior to his work at the V&A, from 2000 – 2005, Adamson served as Curator for the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, which collects and promotes research within the field of decorative arts. During this time, Adamson was responsible for organizing exhibitions, consulting on acquisitions, and development. He also served as Adjunct Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, where he organized a number of exhibitions, including the award-winning Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World (2003).

Born and raised in Boston, Adamson received his BA in Art History from Cornell University (1994) and earned his doctorate in Art History from Yale University (2001). He serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, and is a recipient of the mid-career Iris Award for outstanding contribution to the decorative arts.


Nicholas Frank, Core Coordinator at MIAD

Nicholas Frank holds the position of Core Coordinator at MIAD, where he has taught in the Fine Arts program since 2008. Active as an artist, writer and curator, his projects include programming INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts) from 2006 – 2011, co-founding the Milwaukee International and helping run art fairs from 2006 – 2009, and directing the Hermetic Gallery from 1993 – 2001. His curatorial projects and artworks have been exhibited at the Tate Modern (London); Kölnischer Kunstverein (Cologne); Misako & Rosen and Lamp Gallery (Tokyo); Swiss Institute, Gavin Brown’s Passerby, 47 Canal and Laurel Gilten (New York); Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia); Pepin Moore and Angstrom Gallery (Los Angeles); Locust Projects (Miami); Peregrine Program, Western Exhibitions, Suitable, Hyde Park Art Center, Rowley Kennerk and Golden Age (Chicago); MOCAD (Detroit); Poor Farm, Lynden Sculpture Garden, Green Gallery, Wisconsin Academy Gallery, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Milwaukee Art Museum (Wisconsin); among others.

Frank is represented by Western Exhibitions (Chicago). He’s had solo exhibitions at NADA New York with Green Gallery and at Untitled Miami with Cumulus Studios (both 2013), at Peregrine Program and Western Exhibitions (both Chicago, 2013), and held dual solo exhibitions at Lump in Raleigh, NC and the Green Gallery in Milwaukee in 2012.

Recent curation includes Modalities: Nelly Agassi, Assaf Evron, Amikam Toren, Steve Wetzel at the Poor Farm, Little Wolf, Wis.; Milwaukeeists: 1996 – 2006 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Lawton Gallery; Forrest Myers: Domesticated Monumentalism at Lynden Sculpture Garden; Dan Torop at Green Gallery; and two touring exhibitions, Jennifer Bolande: Landmarks at INOVA, Institute of Contemporary Arts (University of Pennsylvania-Philadelphia) and the Luckman Gallery (California State University-Los Angeles); and Spatial City: An Architecture of Idealism at INOVA, Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago) and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).

He has written on art and other subjects for Possible Press,, Sculpture, New Art Examiner, Purple, X-tra, Artpapers and other publications. Recent catalogue essays include Will Pergl: The Divided Self (Albright College), Nelly Agassi: Inhabiting the Unfamiliar Self (Dvir Gallery), David Foster Wallace: Nicholas Frank speaks with Brooke Kanther (Whitney Museum Biennial 2014), Michelle Grabner: The INOVA Survey (INOVA), Jennifer Bolande: Concentrated Space (JRP Ringier), and What Made Milwaukee Famous (Milwaukeeists: 1996 – 2006, UWGB).

He currently teaches Senior Seminar, a professional development course for all fine art senior students.

Tom Loeser, Chair of the Department of Art at UW-Madison

Currently Chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Art, Tom Loeser has been head of the wood/furniture area at UW-Madison since 1991. He holds a BA from Haverford College, a BFA from Boston University’s Program in Artisanry and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts – North Dartmouth. He has also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and California College of Arts and Crafts. He designs and builds one-of-a-kind functional and dysfunctional objects that are often carved and painted, and always based on the history of design and object-making as a starting point for developing new form and meaning. His artwork has been included in over 200 national and international exhibitions since 1981. He is represented in the collections of 14 museums including the Museums of Fine Arts in Boston and Houston, The Renwick Gallery, The Cooper Hewitt Museum, The Yale University Art Gallery, The Milwaukee Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. He has received four Visual Artist Fellowship Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993 he spent 6 months in Japan on an NEA Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship. In 2003 he spent 6 months teaching and researching in London. In 2010 he collaborated with Bird Ross on the interactive reception desk for the new Madison Children’s Museum.

James Ludwig, VP, Global Design, Steelcase; Grand Rapids, Michigan

James Ludwig is Vice President of Global Design for Steelcase Inc., the global leader in the office furniture industry. Steelcase delivers a better work experience to its customers by providing products, services and insights into the ways people work. Its portfolio includes architecture, furniture and technology products.

James was named to this role in March 2008 with global responsibility for the product design direction of Steelcase, Turnstone, Nurture and Details, overseeing teams in Europe, Asia and the United States. Additionally, he is responsible for the design direction of all Steelcase showrooms and WorkLife Centers. This is an expansion of James’ previous role as director of Design for Steelcase North America.

After being named Director of Design for Steelcase North America in August 2000, he took over leadership of the Advanced Engineering Group, the Project Management Group of Steelcase-brand products, and support of the Steelcase International design team in October 2002.

An architect and industrial designer, James joined Steelcase in July 1999 as director of Integrated Architectural Products Design. He was responsible for developing a variety of Steelcase architectural products, including the most recent iteration of Pathways®.

Prior to joining Steelcase, James was a founding partner of bold:architects.designers., an interdisciplinary design consultancy in Berlin, Germany, from 1995 until 1999. In this role, he promoted teams of architects and designers – both product and graphic – to realize diverse projects such as new buildings and renovations in the reconstruction of a reunited Berlin, furniture and office products, and graphic programs for a variety of international clients.

Before starting his own company, James worked in the architectural office of Grüntüch/Ernst and Buseck Architects from 1993 until 1994, designing projects ranging in scale from single-family residences to industrial complexes.

From 1993 to 1998, James also taught in the Architecture and Industrial Design departments at the Hochschule der Künste-Berlin (now Berlin University of the Arts).

Prior to leaving for Berlin, James worked in Chicago with the design consultancy Design-Logic and independently in New York for clients such as Details, Dictaphone, Hayes Microcomputer, RC Computer of Denmark and Viewmaster-Ideal, designing high-tech products and conducting advanced research.

Born on July 12, 1963, in Pana, Ill., James earned a bachelor of fine arts in industrial design from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and a bachelor of architecture from The Cooper Union in New York City. In 1992, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant, which allowed him to move to Berlin to continue the research he had begun in New York.

James currently resides in East Grand Rapids, Mich., with his wife, Dr. Kim Ludwig, M.D., and their two children, Ella and Anton.

Monica Obniski, 20th and 21st Century Furniture and Decorative Arts Curator, Milwaukee Art Museum

Prior to joining the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2014, Obniski was the Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago from 2011-2014, where she began as a research associate and exhibition coordinator in 2007. During her tenure, she co-organized and co-authored Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago (2009), co-authored for Kith and Kin: The Folk Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago (2012), and oversaw several installations, including new galleries featuring twentieth-century decorative arts and design objects.

Prior to her work at the Art Institute, Obniski was a research assistant in the American decorative arts department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also has taught at various universities, including Columbia College, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Parsons The New School for Design.

Obniski has an MA in the history of decorative arts and design from the Bard Graduate Center in New York, and a BA in art history from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the dissertation “Accumulating Things: Folk Art and Modern Design in the Postwar American Projects of Alexander H. Girard.”

Jon Prown, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee

Jonathan Prown is Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Chipstone Foundation. Prior to his current position, Prown was Assistant Curator (1988-1995), Associate Curator (1995-1998), and Curator (1998-1999) of Furniture and Sculpture at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He received his BA in Art History from Colgate University and his MA in American Studies from The College of William & Mary. Prown has published extensively on American furniture and decorative arts and has curated or co-curated numerous exhibits at the Milwaukee Art Museum and in Colonial Williamsburg.

Among his many notable achievements at the Chipstone Foundation, Prown has created a strategic institutional partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum centered around the progressive interpretation and display of long-term and changing installations in the American Collections Galleries; supported and implemented material culture and decorative arts educational programming through a strategic partnership with the Department of Art History and the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; expanded Chipstone’s book and journal publication program, which currently includes two annual publications (Ceramics in America and American Furniture); developed, a website devoted to creative substantive visual and information databases, virtual exhibits and online versions of Chipstone’s publications; and managed Chipstone’s programmatic activities as a scholar’s center and object study lab.

Sam Vinz, Owner, Volume Gallery, Chicago

From Chicago Magazine

Sam Vinz is one of Chicago’s top patrons of contemporary American furniture and object design. As cofounders of Volume Gallery, Vinz and his partner, Claire Warner, scour studios and graduate student shows and commission emerging designers to create new pieces for pop-up exhibitions.

Eric Vogel, MIAD Chair of 3/D Design and Interior Architecture and Design Professor

Eric Vogel is Chair of 3D Design at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. He teaches several design-oriented courses in the Interior Architecture and Design area, including Introduction to Advanced Studies: Design, Architecture in the Field, an architectural history course, IA+D Senior Thesis, and the community-based Green Design Studio.

Eric was born in Milwaukee in 1967. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University in 1990 with a degree in art and architectural history. After college, he studied sculpture at Columbia University for two years, winning first prize in 1993 at the National Arts Club juried exhibition in New York City. In addition to the fine arts, he has also studied sustainable design at SCI-ARC Vico Morcote in Lugano, Switzerland. After earning his Master’s Degree with Distinction from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC), he worked in the studio of Frank O. Gehry and Associates, and collaborated on several projects with Studio Works architects in Los Angeles.

In 1999, Eric moved back to Milwaukee in order to start the local office for Swiss-based Gastrau Fuerer and Associates. As partner and designer, he worked on several high-profile, sustainably designed projects including the River Tower condominiums on the Milwaukee River (unbuilt 2000-2003) and the Reed Street Yards Burnham Canal Master Plan in the Menomonee River Valley (2001-2004). He was also involved with the renovation of the Milwaukee Montessori School for Studio Works Architects (1999-2000), developed plans for the first sustainable shopping center in Milwaukee County with General Capital Group (Green Tree City Center 2003-2004), designed the new Temple at Deer Park Buddhist Center (2000-2005) as well as working on three residential development projects in Los Angeles (1998-2003).

In 2004, Eric started Vogel Design Group Inc. to focus more specifically on the integration of contemporary design, sustainable building techniques and real estate development. He completed a major development project in 2008 with the Mandel Group Inc. as their “in-house architect” and project manager responsible for interior build-out of the University Club Tower (which was designed in collaboration with the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill). More recently, he designed a dry lab and meditation space for Dr. Richard Davidson, a nationally recognized neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is researching the effects of meditation on the brain.

An important part of Eric’s design methodology and inspiration comes from his collaboration with students. In addition to his current position at MIAD, Eric has taught architecture and design at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles as well as sustainable design and green development at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In his free time, Eric serves on several non-profit boards including the Layton Art Collection, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Historic Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Art Museum.