Over the past 35 years, Lew French has created a new aesthetic using ancient stones in their natural form to design and build rooms, outdoor spaces, fireplaces and sculptural pieces. He has taken everything from huge slabs of weathered granite covered with lichen and moss to small field stones and he has used these natural materials in unique ways to enrich and enliven the lives of his clients and to create spaces of unequaled beauty. He does minimal altering of his materials—he fits the natural pieces without any visible grout lines, often supplementing the stones with driftwood and antique well covers and millstones. Lew’s work has been nationally and internationally recognized, and his groundbreaking techniques and designs are used as references by designers and architects around the world.
Lew is unique in the role he plays with clients: he is the designer and architect of his projects, but he is also the builder. He is equally comfortable working on design questions with the nation’s foremost architects, and once the overall approach is agreed upon, it is Lew himself with his crew who physically put the stones together and creates the extraordinary tapestry of materials, colors and textures that characterize his work. Whether it is by excavator or a set of tweezers, Lew is the construction foreman as the placement of the stones and other materials must be constantly monitored for the desired effect.
Living on Martha’s Vineyard for over 30 years, Lew French has collaborated with architects, designers, contractors, landscape architects and clients, resulting in hundreds of projects. His works and biography have been featured in many magazines, newspapers and TV shows. In 2005, a book featuring his collection of works, “Stone by Design, the Artistry of Lew French”, was released by Gibbs Smith Publishing Company, and it sold over 35,000 copies in the following 10 years. Lew French is now considered to be one of the most important artists in the development of a greater appreciation of the use of stone and other natural materials in constructing environments and stand-alone pieces.
A new book of his work, “Sticks and Stones”, will be published by Gibbs Smith in August of 2016.