Bill Sullivan, a designer and sculptor with an eye for combining the naturalistic with the aesthetic, the beautiful with the practical, has been active in the bespoke and series-based design realm for over three decades. His oeuvre is a lasting testament to his ability to transform shapes observable in nature into comfortable, usable, and aesthetic interior pieces.
Hailing from northern California, Sullivan has always felt a connection and a kinship with the natural world. Observing the relationship between the sea and landward elements (specifically the mighty redwoods, which dominate the region’s landscape), Sullivan was inspired to craft carvings that reflected nature’s creations. His fascination with the sea and humankind’s relationship to it inspired him, at the age of ten, to make scale models of some sailing ships of old from scratch. His early experiences with form and wood segued seamlessly into the unlimited access to an extensive array of woodcarving tools at his neighbor’s cabinet shop, where fortune provided Bill with the opportunity to explore, experiment, and teach himself to carve. At age twenty-one Bill was commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to carve a 12' x 2' Tiffany-La Farge upper fireplace mantle, made of white oak, in the rotunda of the American Wing as well as to reproduce 95% of the carvings in the Richardson Room, located in the same wing, out of 200 year old Mahogany imported from England. It was the works of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church of the Hudson River School that deeply inspired young Sullivan as well as the intensely emotional work of Gustave Doré and Casper David Friedrich that imparted both a mood and level of detail from nature that remain elemental to Bill’s artistic process. These formative experiences gave him a respect for the process of carving as well as a strong foundation in sculpture.
Sullivan’s work exhibits the sculptor’s exceptional technical skill as well as his thematic vision. Armed with a lifetime of both experimentation and creation, Sullivan has produced works in wood, plaster, bronze, and—more recently—in resin. His work, both organic and fluid, embodies a wonderful sense of nature with a special sensitivity to detail and scale. His hand is always seen and felt in his work.
The designs of this innovative sculptor have made an exciting impact on the market. They are displayed in private homes, commissioned by interior designers, and have been retained by museums. His clients, both past and present, include some of the most influential and revered designers—Brian J. McCarthy, David Kleinberg Design, Peter Marino Architect, Angelo Dongia, and Robert AM Stern. Companies for which he’s completed special projects include Christian Dior, Tiffany & Co, and Steinway & Sons.
For Sullivan, creation and execution are as deeply rewarding as the finished pieces themselves. His multi-step process begins with a series of sketches, developed drawings, wax maquettes, and ultimately a full-scale prototype of the chosen design. For his pieces at Maison Gerard’s booth at TEFAF New York Spring his ideas were brought to life in bronze through the lengthy, traditional process of lost wax bronze casting at the foundry. Sullivan takes particular pride in the painstaking art of the final finishes on both his Justin and Isabelle consoles. He is especially proud of the patina and nickel-plate applied to each, respectively, as they add exquisite layering, depth, and character to the consoles.