Thomas Barger’s Furniture in Costume

Originally printed in Issue 20
Text by Olivia Whittick

Images courtesy of Thomas Barger and Salon 94 Design

If a chair can be camp, Thomas Barger’s chairs are camp. Despite being spotted in glamorous locations like the NYC Glossier flagship or the homes of in-the- know art collectors, Barger’s process is a humble one: he finds recycled paper and blends it into a pulp, then applies it to ordinary chairs to convert them into something new and extraordinary. His is furniture in costume, utility transformed, like chairs playing house.

Barger, raised on a farm in rural Illinois, made his pilgrimage to New York after studying architecture. Encouraged by relationships with like-minded artists like Misha Kahn and Jessi Reaves, Barger decided to try his hand at furniture design despite his lack of formal training. His works are pulpy, glossy, lumpy. Cartoonishly organic. Ranging from kinky to cutesy, Barger’s work is an exploration of memory, childhood, and his relationship to queerness.