june 19-22, 2019

Milwaukee, WI


FS19: Groundwork

the Inspiration, Intersections and Experimentation of Furniture Practice

The Furniture Society is proud to present GROUNDWORK, the Society’s annual conference, The conference will be held in partnership with The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) from June 19-22, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The idea of 'research' or 'where inspiration is drawn for practice' is a topic of interest to a wide range of furniture makers. In the broadest sense, research is a practice that looks backwards, forward, as well as-side-to-side. It relates to the creation of historic context as well as to engagement around processes and behaviors that impact the future. In the education segment of the field, professors encourage their students to think through and work expansively, to go beyond the mere cursory explorations of a convenient google search, to dig deeper and slow down. In the field of marketing, research into customer behavior and desires is necessary to avoid potentially catastrophic business decisions.

Historical research

Materials research

Market research

Intersections with other fields

How can we ask the necessary questions that shore up our history? How can we use research as an important tool to help secure our future and thereby our livelihood? Questions around sustainability of various woods and materials and the negative environmental impacts driven by market needs is an ongoing concern that demand continued exploration. Research ultimately also influences and impacts the future of design: How do we ask questions that inform a practice based in research so that we receive long-term value in the creation of furniture beyond them just being beautiful objects?

In addition to the main stage programming, workshops, and demonstrations, GROUNDWORK will feature happenings like

Welcome Reception & Newcomers Welcome The Furniture Society welcomes all attendees to an informal get-together at a local venue.
Slide Wars A lively and informal get-together at FS conferences where all attendees are welcome to show digital images of their work on the big screen.
Exhibition Crawl Showcasing the work and workspaces of Milwaukee makers and artists working in all craft media. TFS will direct attendees to local venues, galleries, and sites within walking distance or close proximity to MIAD.
Award of Distinction Celebration & Luncheon Recognizing an active member of The Furniture Society who has demonstrated extraordinarily dedicated effort on behalf of and/or to the benefit of the Society.
Silent Auction Featuring works of art, tools, equipment, and supplies donated by the Society’s industry partners and members to raise money for The Furniture Society.
Closing Night Dinner & Dance Party Final celebratory dinner and dance event.


This year, conference attendees are encouraged to source their own accomodations for the conference. The Furniture Society has negotiated a series of competitive rates at area hotels. Click below for more information.