LXRY Q&A: Troy Smith, Artist and Designer At Troy Smith Studio
Welcome to the exquisite world of Troy Smith, a renowned functional artist who handcrafts exquisite furniture pieces and large-scale paintings. Smith’s journey has taken him from the humble beginnings of carpentry to the pinnacle of artistic innovation on a worldwide stage through his professional outlet, Troy Smith Studio.
Residing in Toronto, Troy Smith offers a unique perspective on how his surroundings have shaped his artistic endeavours, pushing him to draw inspiration from a global palette.
As we delve into his creative process, his inspirations, and the intriguing blend of functionality and artistry in his work, we uncover the essence of what makes Troy Smith’s designs stand out in the world of luxury furniture and large-scale canvas painting.
I met Troy at his beautiful home where he lives amongst bright, bold colours, his artwork and inspirations while he was working on a beautiful new mirror that he crafted out of rebar and exotic wood (below).
LXRY Q&A With Troy Smith of Troy Smith Studio
LXRY: How has being based in Toronto influenced your artistic output? Do you draw any inspiration from the city’s culture or architecture?
TS: Toronto has not influenced me in a major significant way. This potentially has benefited me more than I thought until this question. Possibly forcing me to look farther abroad. Defining my style means incorporating techniques and styles through history from around the globe, which is what most great designers do. Toronto has forced me to search the world for inspiration.
LXRY: Can you share your journey from carpentry to becoming a renowned functional artist, furniture maker and painter? How have your carpenter skills influenced your furniture-making and painting artistry?
TS: My journey started at home. My father is a carpenter and builder. We lived in many homes that my mom and dad built or renovated. Naturally, I witnessed construction and building going on as I grew up. I helped my parents and started working with my dad as I got older. But, It would be many years before I attempted anything artistic-related. Painting and furniture are equal parts of building something. Especially with furniture, you must be able to visualize what you want to develop in 3D form. A good builder can do this when constructing a home. So carpentry has dramatically expanded my physical and mental ability to think and conceive a work in my mind. I also believe I have a natural ability beyond others to design new ideas. But this, of course, is refined through experience and time.
LXRY: What inspires your unique approach to functional art design? Are there any historical or contemporary influences that have mainly shaped your work?
TS: My influences come from every period in history. I find inspiration in all forms of art and design, from the earliest cave paintings in France to AI-generated renderings of unbuilt ideas. We still live in the real world, so my work must be tactile, functional and useful. When you blend the present with the past, you get a dialogue between the two ideas, whether that be new materials used with traditional craft techniques or modern machinery that uses natural materials like marble, precious metals, and wood to give the viewer a new perspective on design.
LXRY: Could you describe your process when starting a new piece, whether a furniture design or a canvas painting? How do you blend functionality with artistic expression in your furniture designs?
TS: I usually build something in my mind first; I like determining how the pieces will go together. In my head, I can visually see things in 3D. This helps me construct the work even before my pencil hits the paper. After I’ve formed that idea, I will draw it in one of my sketchbooks. After that, someone on my team will take that sketch, and we will turn it into a working workshop drawing. We go back and forth with them until the drawings are to scale, and I can see what I imagined on paper. After that, my team and I will render a 3D model in high resolution where I can see form, colour, proportion, and material. The furniture comes to life in this process, and it’s the best place to see if things need tweaking. With rendering, you can change materials and just about anything to create a realistic photo representing your idea without the cost of multiple prototypes. After this is all done, it’s time to start building in the workshops.
LXRY: What materials do you prefer to work with and why? How important are the materials’ quality, history and character in your work?
TS: I prefer using natural materials like metal, wood, stone, glass, leather, and natural textiles. It gives the work a timeless longevity. These materials have been used since the beginning and will always stay in style. I have thought extensively over the last year about material selection for my projects. This came about after partnering with Bonham Gallery and talking with the owner and director about how my works are best presented to the world for the most refined and timeless appeal. My work has to be of the highest quality for the galleries I work with. This is not negotiable. Everything must be looking perfect.
LXRY: Is there a common thread that ties all your works together?
TS: The common thread that ties my work together is that it is of the highest quality. Secondly, it’s original and handmade. The style of functional art I design carries my own design DNA. Sometimes, this is intentional; other times, it happens naturally. Why or how an artist develops his style may need to be more clearly understood. But undoubtedly, the artist’s education, atmosphere, travels, and experiences create an artist’s oeuvre. Clients of this pedigree are looking for something unique and different, and I am thrilled to oblige.
LXRY: What has been your most challenging custom project, and what made it unique?
TS: Everything I do is challenging. That’s the nature of the work I do. I am always trying something new or different, which leads to problems needing to be solved. I work with many materials and techniques, so my repertoire must constantly be learning and updating. There is so much to know about everything. But this is not a hindrance; it’s a blessing because I am trying to make something unique and rare. I am here to give my patrons world-class art. Struggling and perseverance are what it takes to bring this incredible work alive.
LXRY: Who typically commissions your work, and how do you collaborate with clients to bring their vision to life while maintaining your artistic integrity?
TS: Interior designers and galleries are the largest buyers of my work. These are the people who work on projects all year, every year. I also get orders from private customers who find me online or through social media. Or an article like this! The public or private sector may acquire my work. Either a commissioned piece or something I have already designed. I am open for business with everyone.
LXRY: Your work has been featured internationally, most recently in an art gallery in New Zealand. What do you believe sets your designs apart on the global stage?
TS: My work is timeless, limited and handmade. My designs often have a humorous touch, incorporating a playful side that makes the viewer curious about the work. I also bring a fresh approach to materials by often taking commonly overlooked materials and using them in unexpected ways. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
LXRY: What trends do you foresee in luxury furniture design and large canvas painting in the coming years?
TS: There will always be trends, even in the high-end art market and across international borders. I see a resurgence in handmade craftworks across functional art and collectible design sectors. Artists are heading back into workshops and making one-offs or low-run series. AI is also a significant factor. Artists are using it to showcase and dream up almost anything. It slowly crept in. We will see AI develop further as we integrate new technologies into our existence. One thing that did not age well was NFTs. I never believed in them and had no interest in them from the start. Large paintings will always stay in style. They continue to dominate high-end homes and commercial projects.
LXRY: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your dual furniture maker and painter role?
TS: Not a whole lot, other than more work. I enjoy being able to switch between mediums. Painting is more unrestrained because I only need my canvas, brush, and paint. It requires less setup and happens much faster. Building a new piece of furniture requires a lot more time and planning. It also requires a larger space and machinery. They are both equally creative, but functional art needs the piece to be practical and structurally sound. They work off each other and are another part of my design studio. I also created a large nine-foot-tall stainless sculpture for the sculpture park Art St. Urban in Switzerland, which is on display next to the incredible Abby, which has stood on these grounds for over 1000 years in one form or another.
LXRY: What are your future plans or projects that we should look forward to?
TS: I look forward to working with Bonham Gallery as they expand into Sydney. I will make a few commissioned pieces for the gallery this coming year. I am also planning on partnering up with top galleries in the USA. More on this to come in the new year. Moving my studio to a more extensive workshop would also be in the cards. Offering myself to execute more ambitious work and take on more projects throughout the years. I look forward to more people learning about my work so I can share with them the great joy of acquiring something extraordinary.
LXRY: What is considered ‘luxury’ or ‘a luxury’ to you?
TS: Luxury is something that gives you pleasure and improves your life. These are a few reasons why living with handmade furniture and fine art gives many people immense pleasure. These items tell a story; they know where they came from and how they were made. And when they are ready to be passed on or sold, they carry their value. Luxury is time; luxury is being alive and not stressed out. Luxury is knowing the art you live with brightens your mood, life and attitude.
LXRY: Anything else you would like to share? Or where your work has been featured?
TS: My work has been featured in many of the world’s best art and design magazines. Over 50 international print and web publications have written about Troy Smith Studio. You can find many of these on my website.
LXRY: How can people find you online?
TS: I can be found on my website, troysmithstudio.com, or through Instagram at @troysmithstudio. I can be contacted through both.
LXRY: Troy, can you give us a quote?
“Great design makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it first.” – Troy Smith
The Bottom Line
As we conclude our inspiring conversation with Troy Smith, we’re left with a deeper understanding of what drives the creative mind behind some of his most exquisite pieces of functional art and paintings and the incredible standards he sets for every piece. From his unique approach to material selection, and his appreciation for natural and noble materials, to his vision for timeless and bold designs in the design world.
Troy Smith’s insights provide a window into the world of high-end artistry. With exciting future projects on the horizon and a philosophy that sees luxury as a form of life enhancement, Troy Smith’s work continues to redefine the boundaries of art and design. Be sure to follow his journey and upcoming creations through his website and social media platforms (@troysmithstudio), or visit his website, where the blend of tradition, innovation, and exceptional quality continues to thrive.
Thank you for reading.
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