Artist Ty Best in his Montana studio (Photo by Al Oliver)
Solid bronze Kintla chair
From a remote farmhouse in Montana, artist and designer Ty Best crafts his functional, artful furniture line, Caste. Despite its isolated home base, the furniture has turned heads across the globe since launching in 2008.
Last fall, the respected West London gallery Willer exhibited 13 of Best’s pieces, to enthusiastic reviews in Wallpaper and The Telegraph. And just last month, designer Holly Hunt, who has sold Best’s work in her Chicago showroom since its debut, introduced the full Caste collection to her Dallas and Houston showrooms.
A Montana native, Best worked as a visual artist, sculptor, and fashion stylist trying his hand at furniture design. “I like the isolation,” he says. “Design can get so incestuous in cities like New York, with everyone feeding off each other’s ideas. Here, my ideas are my own.”
The surrounding rugged terrain is a significant source of inspiration. “The landscape has a lot to do with the shapes of the pieces,” he says. Case in point: The hand-carved walnut base of the Harlow coffee table mimics the sculptural effect created by wind and water erosion on rock and wood; the delicately tapered, cast-bronze legs of his Bridger series of tables and benches recall stalactites.
Best works in white oak, walnut, marble, and cast bronze — and the artist’s hand is very much present. “The way we work is unorthodox,” he says. “I draw each piece small-scale by hand, then blow it up full-scale for my woodworker. Then we build a prototype in wood.” Artisans in Montana and Chicago then create the finished pieces.
His work may be organic, but it’s far from rustic. “There’s a big fashion influence in my line,” he says, with a nod to pieces that are distinguished with mohair and bridle leather.
Best’s background as an artist manifests in an esoteric manner. The negative spaces of his Hollow table are inspired by works of abstract sculptor Henry Moore, and the bronze Camus table lamp evokes Giacometti’s existential, slim bronze figures. Says Best, “I like everything to look like a sculpture people can use.”
To the trade at Holly Hunt showroom.