Meet the 1980s-Era Designer Whose Chair Went Semi-Viral During the Pandemic

The impulse to reassess design from the late '70s and '80s — and to place it in a current context — has clearly been in the air, most notably at last year’s Return to Downtown group show from Superhouse and Magen H Gallery and at the more recent Blurring the Timeline show, also at Superhouse. Standout pieces from both exhibitions included chairs by a designer whose name you might not be familiar with: Howard Meister, part of the core group of designer-artists at Art et Industrie, a now-legendary New York gallery that opened in 1977 and closed in the late '90s. Here, we caught up with Meister from his home in Western Massachusetts. In a roving, entertaining interview, he shared with us how he got his largely accidental start and went from being “a dope in a suit” to an artist, his belief in the importance of craft and his desire not to be “survived by crap."