Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Design Profile: Peter Tucker

Published in  Dollhouses Past & Present, Magazine #9 (May 2011)  by Carol Morehead, Leftcoastmini

Frank Lloyd Wright lamp & chairs

Dare I call Peter Tucker an Eminent Gris of Modern Miniature design? He is really not that gris. But if you look at the 25 or more articles that have been published about him his eminence is clear. His special skill is bringing artistry and technology together.

He currently lives in Vancouver British Columbia with his wife Jeremie. He has 2 grown daughters from an earlier marriage, Heather and Michelle.
Peter made his first doll house as a ten year old for his younger sister when his family was living in Montreal, Canada. It is unknown what happened to the house as the family furnishings were dispersed after his mother died.

He is particularly amused by the portable television.

Peter's second dollhouse, built from plans.

His post high school education began in Engineering and then he switched to Psychology. He began his career as School Psychologist.

He next started a database design consulting company. This job required constant travel and as he explained "upon hearing of the deaths of two people close to me in a hotel room on the other side of the globe, I decided to make a change and not spend most of my time away from my family".
This was his chance to explore his creativity which lead first to making one of a kind of roomboxes, then to the art of miniature furniture.

His room boxes, such as the Greene and Greene Gamble House dining room above, have exquisite workmanship and show a masterful understanding of perspective, so important to make miniature scenes look realistic.

His first show was in Seattle in 1997 or '98. He was noticed at that Seattle show by Andy and Marilyn Benedict of Maison des Maisons (a miniatures company which specialized in Native American and fine American and European art), who took him to his first Chicago show in 1999. They encouraged him and he has been showing his work there ever since.

 Frank Lloyd Wright stick back chair

After finishing his roomboxes he began to find a lack of modern furniture to put in them.

His next influence was meeting the collector Annie Herzfeld in 1998. Annie's father had been an engineer for Frank Lloyd Wright and she only wanted modern miniature productions and Peter became a devotee to that style.
He now creates miniature originals, focusing on roomboxes, lights and furniture in mainly art deco, arts and crafts, and modern styles.

He was captivated by the G. Rietveld Chair. "Some things are just a visual treat and I have to make them. It is a study in geometry and planes and primary colors," he said.

He makes beautiful miniature working lights. He initiated experimentation with LED based lights. Some of his creations are beautiful Lucite sculptures.

Sculpture or light?

Peter Tucker's LED lights at the Good Sam Show, San Jose, California in October 2010. Photo: MiniDork from http://modernminihouses.blogspot.com/

Peter attends many major shows where he exhibits and gives tutorials. His tutorials are very popular and he is willing to share his skills. You might have seen him last year in Chicago or at the Kensington Show in England this Spring.

Above: Peter Tucker's furniture at the Good Sam Show, San Jose, California, October 2010. Photos: MiniDork from http://modernminihouses.blogspot.com/

Below: Detail of the Art Deco / Moderne dressing table

I think the statement he made that most resonated with me is about Grandma's House. He points out, "Victorians are not what kids understand. Grandma's house is as far back as they go. Nobody's Grandma lives in a Victorian anymore, they live in a 1950's house at the earliest." Perhaps this reflects the younger miniatures audience's attraction to the '60's and even '70's design.

Chaise Me To Work: Two Peter Tucker modern chairs in Douglas fir, cherry, and ebony, in a scene and photo by Modern MC of Mini Modern

This echoes exactly what I experienced with my own Grandchild when her first words said while pointing at my dollhouses' items were,"Cell phone, bottled water, and remote" in baby talk.
Though I have many pieces of modern mini furniture I treasure the piece I have of his work. It is his molded plywood chair. The picture I took of that chair is one of my best photos, not because of my photography skill, and maybe in spite of it, but because of natural sunlight falling on his beautifully formed wood.

                                          Photo: Carol Morehead, Leftcoastmin

Today Peter has a web site at http://www.roomboxes.com/ which showcases his creations for sale. Much of his work is custom-made to collectors' ideas. He has even made roomboxes inspired by movie themes and loves to make his customers' ideas come to life.

He has a blog at http://roomboxes.blogspot.com/ called "Musings on Modern Miniatures: random notes on my working with miniatures: activities, designs, and design influences, techniques and brain storms." It's worth joining just for the brain storms! His blog shows his latest creations showing how his imagination and artistry work together.

Peter works in a garage converted to a studio, and says of his workspace,

"One thing for sure - I don't suffer from any compulsive neatness disorder - and I do like tools!"

As well as MANY hand tools, he has (above left) a Brynes 4 inch table saw, a compressor below, and dust collector; (above right) a drum sander atop a planer, jointer in the middle, disc sander to left with suspended vacuum hose adding a certain style; (below left) the big table saw; and below right, a Preac saw to the right with electronic stuff above and to right, band saw and tool chest to left.

In his basement shop (above), there are more tools, including a paint spray booth and compressor, a scroll saw and a microlux saw, a drill press, a mini mill, and a micro lathe.

Screen or room divider inspired by Eileen Gray

As he looks back at this beautiful body of work he created he knows one thing for sure — he won’t run out of inspiration for new and interesting pieces to design and build.

Cheers CM


  1. Thank you for sharing that post - amazing work :)

  2. He does make wonderful minis. I especially like the art deco room. It's fun to see that he started with a kit house just as many of us did. He has certainly moved way past that genre, and it's lucky for us collectors that he did. Great article!

  3. I love Peter's work.
    Thanks for sharing =0)

  4. Thank you for this post about Peter Tucker. I saw his work at the San Jose show last year. It is so beautiful!

  5. Oh great, I'm glad you copied it from the magazine, Carol - I worked out the final layout and captions on the webpage, so I would just have copied it from there too!
    It looks great on a black background, too :-)

  6. Hi My Wee Life! Thanks. Love your banner on your blog. CM

  7. Eh Shale, yes the leap from the plywood kit to the Gamble house is amazing!!!! How are all you new houses??? CM

  8. Hi Heather. I missed it. I want to go this year. CM

  9. Rebecca You are the best editor in the world! CM

  10. Wonderful article on a fantastic artist! I have admired his work and roomboxes from before I started blogging, his work is so beautiful and exquisite!

    Thanks for sharing Carol, it's so great you're writing these modern designer presentations for the Dollshouses past and present magazine!

  11. That vintage photo with dollhouse and TV beside it is classic--love it! So glad I found your blog today!