Refractory debuts collection of functional art in New York

Refractory, a Chicago-based studio founded by design industry veterans Angie West and Alberto Vélez during the pandemic, debuted its functional art and collectibles at Future Fair during New York’s Art Week.

The studio’s inaugural collection, which softly launched in the fall of 2021, includes consoles, dining tables, occasional tables, benches, lighting and objects rendered from cast bronze, cast glass, solid black walnut, white oak and cast resin in a muted, deep palette of patinas that evoke natural phenomena and earthen pigments. Each work is one-of-a- kind, the result of heat and chemical interaction, and work of the hand, giving rise to variation and imperfection, according to a news release.

Tributary side table

Over their careers, West and Vélez have collectively worked with esteemed firms such as Holly Hunt, Tom Ford and Studio Sofield, as well as artists like Steven Haulenbeek, Paul Mathieu and Theaster Gates.

“Refractory is born from the West, from the frontier, from the space of adventure and discovery, from femininity, from sculpture, from going rogue —and as well from our roots as a small West Texas merchant that purveyed tools and army surplus in the1940s.”

Isthumus chandelier

Refractory’s inaugural body of work is defined by 10 distinct series: Tributary, Scimitar, Promontory, Tallow, Isthmus, Ammonite, Okenite, Synth, Sloop and Cofre.

The company is co-located with its production partner and sister company West Supply, a design and art fabrication studio, foundry and glassworks.

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