My background is a combination of industrial design as well as cabinetmaking going back 20 years. While studying woodworking at Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan I was able to intern with Ralph Lauren Home Collection in New York City in 2000. After receiving my BFA, I relocated and stayed with the company for 12 more years before deciding to move on.
Working in the fast-paced fashion world, I still somehow always managed to keep a wood shop. Not so easy in NYC but spending my after-hours doing what I loved was worth it! I still have nightmares of transporting solid wood planks on the subway. In 2014 everything changed when I received an offer to help relaunch the Williams-Sonoma Home furniture line and was excited that it was in San Francisco. Moving to the West Coast would provide the inspiration for a whole new aesthetic direction.
While driving U.S. 101 (‘El Camino Real,’ the same route the Spanish missionaries traveled from Mexico City), I spotted a road sign, “Mission San Miguel”. A historical marker junkie, I visited and was transformed. I had been only vaguely familiar with America’s Spanish colonial past, but began doing extensive research on the history and furnishings of the period—a fascination that would eventually take me on several trips around Northern New Mexico and California.
Early 19th-century New Mexican folk crafts are to me the ultimate expression of the decorative arts. What the Hispanic and indigenous ‘carpinteros’ were able to accomplish with few resources is a testament to the way different cultures can cross fertilize. influence and learn from one another. The American West during this era was incredibly remote and had very limited trade with the outside world. It’s been estimated a shop might have only 10-20 iron tools. Improvising with the tools and materials on hand, they created pieces with bold, sturdy forms punctuated with European and native motifs such as mesa and lighting shaping. Tool marks would often be left intact on secondary surfaces. Some pieces may seem primitive, but in fact, the proportions followed rather sophisticated standards. You can also see a strong use of negative space, something furniture designers from any era are prone to neglect.