October 10, 2017

Caleb Woodard Furniture


Tell me a little bit about your background, Caleb. What led you to furniture-making and how did your furniture line begin?
I grew up the son of a woodworker, so my earliest memories are of the tools and techniques of woodworking. My father had been a full-time furniture maker for a time when I was very young, but after that always kept a shop and made all of the furniture for our home. Though we were essentially poor, we had the nicest furniture of anyone I knew. I grew up with a fundamental belief that if you wanted something, you could just make it if you tried hard enough. I never seriously thought of it as an option for making a living. After college I worked for some time in an office in DC. I grew to realize how much I wanted to make a living doing what I had known in my youth. I was able to partner in a wood shop and slowly built a clientele.


What do you love most about working with your hands and what attracts you to wood as a medium?
I love working with my hands because it achieves the ideas of my mind. The possibilities are as limitless as my imagination is. Wood is the medium I trained in and though I love many other mediums, it is certainly the one I am most proficient in. I think all woodworkers are at times frustrated and awed by it; the endless movement is a challenge but the beauty is hard to match.

Your woodwork is beautifully sculptural. What are your major influences? What is your creative process when designing a new piece?
I’ve always said I’m a sculptor in a furniture makers business. That being said, I’ve no real desire to make pure sculpture, and do not consider myself a sculptor. I’ve always found sculpture to be the most inspirational, the most free. Sculpture has the ability to impact us and our humanity. I’ve tried to combine that freedom of form with some semblance of function. I begin each piece with very loose sketches, shapes and textures that I’m attracted to. Oftentimes pages of sketches. After that the arduous process of how to make it and have it serve a function begins. For some pieces, I make maquettes to ensure the piece works in proportion and three dimensions.

Are there any design rules or philosophies you abide by?
There are many rules of design I personally abide by, but I’ll keep it to a few. The first (and most difficult) is to make an honest effort to be original. After a couple millennia of furniture, that is a tall order. The second is to make something memorable. My niche is in accent pieces, so if I make something forgettable, that is a failure for me. Lastly, the longer I do this, I want to make pieces that illicit contemplation and emotional response from the viewer. I’ve no desire to make furniture that is part of a bland palette, I want to make pieces that express our humanity - which is our creativity - at a high level. There is no reason that a sculpted buffet cannot strike as deep a chord as a painting.


What does “being creative” or “creativity” mean to you?
Being creative to me is very simple - it is risk. Without risk I am not being creative, I’m just making something.

What do you love most about your job?
The chance to be creative.

How have you created a space in your design studio that is conducive to your creative workflow?
I’ve tried very hard in my new studio to first of all make a space I want to come to every day. Most of my waking hours are spent here, so I made a conscious decision to use materials and organization and layout that make me feel ready and excited to create when I come in every morning. There are carved doors, a conspicuous absence of any drywall, stone and brick, good light, and places to put sculptural pieces throughout.

What makes you feel at home in a space?
A sense of home to me is natural materials, objects that impart a sense of human creation, areas to nest, and... lamplight?

Who are your favorite artists/designers and what do you love about their work?
My list of favorite artists is a long but familiar one, Brancusi, Noguchi, Wharton Esherick, JB Blunk, Castle, Judy McKie, Henry Moore, Henri Laurens, and so many more.


Connect with Caleb: Website // Instagram
Images 1 - 10 (provided by Caleb Woodard)
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