Doug Ricketts developed Prairie View Furniture, a line of fine home furnishings, so he could combine his love of making with his desire to create regionally-inspired, functional art pieces. In the true Texas furniture tradition, Ricketts makes do with what he has around him, whether he is fabricating steel, bringing tough mesquite or rich walnut to a fine finish, or giving repurposed ag machinery parts a second life. Design inspiration is found in the landscape, weather events, farm implements, the iconic shapes of Plains grain elevators, and patterns of wear and time.
There is an element of wonder and surprise to each piece of Prairie View Furniture. Though a sheet metal panel has a rust patina, it is still smooth to the touch. Doors and drawers are a pleasure to open and close. And all surfaces are finished with care. Designing for his particular style, Ricketts is free to combine all sorts of materials: sandblasted wood might be paired with blackened steel, a cabinet of highly-figured wood could have a painted interior, or a mesquite dining table could have a steel base fabricated from recycled plow parts.
Each piece also has its own story: the lamp with the lathe-turned shade from drought-killed elm, or wide boards milled from the native walnut that once grew next to the old jail, or the tornado-damaged porch posts used in a new incarnation on a tall cabinet. Doug Ricketts feels a responsibility to tell the stories, to design timeless pieces that do justice to all the rich materials, and to present his collectors with unique furniture that they can fill with their own stories.
This beautifully produced video from Texas Country Reporter tells the tale of how my 2003 art and history exhibit “Art from the Ruins” came about. Given the opportunity to salvage an old Texas homestead, and to make use of a treasure trove of related archival materials, I chose to create a series of story cabinets. The show traveled to 13 area museums and is now on permanent display at the Wolf Creek Heritage Museum in Lipscomb, Texas. Though I maybe didn’t realize it at the time, “Art from the Ruins” became a celebratory culmination of the first phase of my furniture-making career, when all of my pieces were made from 100 percent salvaged material.