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Artichoke Appeal

Artichoke AppealTufts graduate Ian Senecal's "art-i-choke" sculptures are earning the restaurant manager a name in the design world.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.17.07] When asked by his boss to create a sculpture for the restaurant where he worked, Tufts graduate Ian Senecal found inspiration in an artichoke.

His creations, known as "art-i-chokes", are featured in this month's Architectural Digest magazine. With spoons for leaves and a fork as a stem, they resemble the real vegetable in varying stages of bloom. A 2006 graduate of the Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Senecal told the Albany Times Union, "I went out and bought a bunch of silverware. I thought vegetables would be great."

Indeed, it turned out to be a good decision for Senecal, who, at the time, was a Tufts undergraduate, working as a waiter at Houston's, a Boston restaurant.After graduation, he went to work at the restaurant's New York City location. There, his "art-i-chokes" caught the eye of one of Senecal's customers, interior designer Marc Charbonnet.

The pair had been chatting about art when Senecal showed one of his sculptures. The designer told the Times Union he was "blown away."

Charbonnet then told editors at Architectural Digest of Senecal's work.They decided to feature "art-i-chokes" in the December issue's "Discoveries by Designers" section.

"I like Ian's work because he takes everyday objects and creates a sculpture unique and fresh," Charbonnet said in an interview with the magazine. Charbonnet did more than praise Senecal's work.He spent $1,800 to purchase several pieces for a client.

"I was doing a huge loft in Tribeca for a single man," he told the Times Union. "I wanted something in his kitchen that would have strength, whimsy and a masculine feel, but still be decorative. Those artichokes had everything I needed."

The magazine feature has sparked a sudden demand for the "art-i-chokes". Senecal, who is charging $175 per piece, has received three dozen orders.

"This is quite a coup for this young artist," Charbonnet told the Times Union. "He supplied a perfect decorative object and piece of art. There are a lot of great artists out there, but you don't want to look at someone's decapitated head in the living room."

Senecal, who is currently a manager at a Houston's in Atlanta, is happy with compliment.Still, he doesn't want his artichoke art to become too widespread.

"I don't want to go so public with this that you can find them in any Crate & Barrel." he told the Times Union.

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