Fearless Furniture: Design Meets Art at the Indiana State Museum

Who says you have to go to the east or west coast to find cool furniture, when some of the most innovative and clever-yet-functional furniture designs you’ll find anywhere are on display right now at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis?

Fearless Furniture is a must-see collection of furniture made by modern-day artisans within the state of Indiana. The exhibit runs through May 27, 2014 in the NiSource Gallery on the 3rd floor of the museum.


“We wanted to put together a show that didn’t necessarily focus on the historical past, but also on what people are doing today. Indiana has a really major history in furniture and furniture production, and that’s happening today. So we put together a show (with) a lot of artists, a lot of artisans, who hand-made all of their pieces. They’re all functional,” says Curator of Decorative Objects and Furniture, David Buchanan.

Because this is a “juried” show, not just any old furniture designs made the cut. Prospective designers had to submit their work(s) before a judge—in this case, world-renowned expert Wendy Maruyama—who decided which submissions were most deserving of inclusion in the show.

Perhaps the one thing that stands out the most is the diversity of designs. Styles range from traditional to modern to minimalist.


One very clever piece, called “Untitled Bench,” was made by Steven Sander, a graduate of the IUPUI’s Herron School of Art & Design. It is a functional bench made of 2,500 wooden pegs that took over 80 hours to cut, mill and chop. The pegs have been layered on a system which allows them to conform to your body when you sit on them.


Another really clever piece was made by Jeffrey Fleming, a student of Industrial Design at Purdue University for whom the word “fearless” is suggestive of someone unafraid to cross boundaries or take risks in pursuit of a goal. His piece, entitled “Aero,” is a chair made of maple wood, which is entirely held together by gravity and pressure—no nails, screws, glue, etc. Amazing!


Glen Fuller is an industrial designer in Indianapolis, and a graduate of Indiana State University/Purdue University. His design, called “Star Chair,” was partly inspired by manufacturing processes used in the auto industry. It is a sleek, metal chair made of welded aluminum, and finished in several layers of automotive paint and clear coat.


One easy-to-overlook aspect of the show is the way in which overhead lights cast artfully geometric shadows onto the floor. It is an unintended effect, yet one worthy of taking notice.

In a way, each piece of work offers a peek into the mind of its creator. Each is a testament to the human ability to visualize new ways of doing things. It is a reminder that this same essential ability lies within each of us, if we would only use it. And finally, each work of art speaks to the talent, imagination and ingenuity that reside within our very own state.

Event Info

  • Now through May 27, 2014
  • Address: Indiana State Museum, 650 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Website