Northampton designers Jillian and Michael Gobeille create chair for International Furniture and Design Association exhibition

Last modified: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — A city design duo recently participated in the third annual worldwide exhibition of the International Furniture and Design Association, creating a chair that fetched $500 at a charity auction.

Jillian Gobeille of Northampton and her husband Michael, who operate as a design team called Studio North, designed and submitted a chair they dubbed “Olivia” to the exhibition, which had a theme this year of “Take a Seat.” Participants in the exhibition submitted chairs they redesigned from recycled materials.

“We wanted a chair with a clear, simplistic design,” Gobeille said. “We looked at a lot of flea markets. You can find a lot of Victorian designs there, but that wasn’t really our style. Ours is more of a modern, clean, contemporary style.”

The auction, which raised $16,000 for the Boston- and Hartford-based Women’s Institute of Housing & Economic Development, was held at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline on June 3 and followed a traveling exhibit that began May 13.

The International Furniture and Design Association’s members include architects, designers, builders and craftsmen. The association has a total of 16 chapters in the United States and one in Japan.

Jennifer Driscoll, vice president of programming for the association’s New England chapter, said this was the first year the chapter participated in the exhibition. “The event itself has formed its own set of legs. We have been fortunate to ride the wave,” she said.

Gobeille’s chair was one of 11 submissions selected to be shown as part of the New England chapter’s show.

Gobeille, who holds a degree in furniture design and works as the interior designer at Fly By Night furniture in Northampton, said it took her 12 to 14 hours to complete her work on the Olivia chair — a relatively short project, compared to some of her first creations, which she said took her up to 36 hours.

She was encouraged to submit to the exhibition by Karen Dzendolet, a Pelham interior designer who is president of the International Furniture and Design Association’s New England chapter.

“Each chair was really different — the idea was that the New England design community was invited to build a chair and each person puts their own spin on it,” said Dzendolet.

Describing Gobeille’s chair, Dzendolet said, “Jill’s is very ‘Mad Men.’ Some of the chairs were highly embellished and she took a minimalist approach.”

Some of Gobeille’s previous projects in the area have included color consultation for Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield and work on the office of the executive director at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Michael Gobeille, a registered architect, works for Roy Brown Architects in Wilbraham.

“It’s good to give back,” Gobeille said of her participation in the exhibition, adding that she hopes to become more involved in the International Furniture and Design Association. “It’s a wonderful organization.”


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