David Hrobowski makes those of us who have a hard time assembling Ikea furniture look silly. The 56-year-old Los Angeles-based artist spends his days making one-of-a-kind chairs, tables, lamps and mirrors out of Popsicle sticks.
Creating multiple layers to reinforce the sticks' weak points, Hrobowski's creations are fully functional, expertly crafted and aesthetically pleasing. Who knew Popsicle sticks could be so cool? "When I was 9 I was home, sick in bed, and my neighbor who was a fifth-grade teacher brought me some Popsicle sticks to play around with. I made a lamp and somehow I ended up on a local television station," explains Hrobowski. "They ran my phone number and I got orders. I made three or four of them and then dropped it. Fast forward 40 years and I'm in downtown L.A. with a friend. I told him about my Popsicle story and his response was 'Oh.' He totally dismissed it. I bought a box of Popsicle sticks thinking that if I could make one of those lamps, I would get my props. That's how this whole thing got started."
In the past few years, Hrobowski's single lamp has tur
ned into a series of lamps, chairs, sconces, decorative boxes and tables worthy of their own gallery space. Taking anywhere from a few thousand to 20,000 popsicle sticks to make a single piece, Hrobowski says his work can take several years to finish, since only a small portion can be completed before having to pause to let the glue dry.
"Some of these pieces have nearly killed me," Hrobowski confesses. "I don't start out with a plan, I just see what comes out of me. That table took a year and a half to complete because I kept running into questions like 'How am I going to reinforce the center?' and 'Does this piece need a base?' As they say, that's just how I roll."
Since creating his first revamp of the original Popsicle lamp,
Hrobowski has landed his own show at the MorYork Gallery
in L.A., has sold several pieces and currently is waiting for his second show to open at Santa Monica's Bergamot Station Gallery of Functional Art
on July 10. Since each piece takes a significant amount of time and effort to create, Hrobowski doesn't see Popsicle stick furniture landing in mainstream stores any time in the near future. But his work does call to question what design creations are possible with ordinary materials and a little ingenuity.
"It was an important lesson for me that sometimes inspiration happens on accident," he says. "All of my work is an offshoot of one friend responding to me in a way I didn't expect. It was a blessing."
For more info on Hroboski's work, contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.