On a personal and spiritual level, my beliefs are parallel with the ancient religion of Shintoism, is founded on the belief that one must pay respects to ancestors and objects that have come before it. This includes all objects of nature, and specifically for these purposes — trees. As a furniture maker, I feel it is absolutely necessary to value the sacrifice the tree has given us in order to produce our furniture.
We pay respect to the tree by not being wasteful. This includes not discarding unused material created by creating parts for our furniture (called “cut-offs” in the trade and typically discarded by other makers). In the past, we have donated our cut-off to a local manufacturer who then makes other pieces of furniture from a collective scrap pile. We also pay respect to the tree by doing our best to showcase the inherent beauty of the tree and showcase wood’s natural beauty in the best way possible for everyone to gain an appreciation.
There is a relatively new term being applied to a certain core of furniture maker in the green movement as “heirloom design”. Quite simply, this concept maintains that sustainability is best created when a piece of furniture is designed with the durability to last generations; therefore the need to produce replacements is decreased. This idea can be contrasted with the practice of some “green” manufacturers who use certified materials in furniture that is not designed to have a long useful lifespan.
Another aspect of our green philosophy is to use locally harvested woods for our manufacturing process. Most of our domestic hardwoods come from the Delaware/Pennsylvania region and it’s rewarding to be able to walk the same the land from where our furniture is born. I feel this approach to materials reduces our carbon footprint over the larger manufacturers who claim to use “green” materials in their furniture produced in Chinese factories and then shipped overseas. (On a side note, I have visited a “so-called” green factory in China to observe the manufacturing process first-hand and there is nothing in the process that could be considered green as I observed and breathed the pollution created and the landscape desecration.)
In several of our custom projects, we have worked with reclaimed materials originally from building demolitions. We have repurposed reclaimed southern yellow pine floor joists into interior doors and reclaimed oak beams have been turned into benches and banquets.
When an exotic wood (teak or mahogany) is requested, we source our materials from Teak and Woods, a company that utilizes responsibly forested wood and is currently awaiting FSC certification—the most rigorous certifier of sustainable wood.
When we are finishing our furniture, we have two methods we prefer to utilize. For our studio line and all other stand-alone custom furniture, we hand apply all finishes. Applying finish by hand not only results in a beautiful finish, but we also do not add hazardous air pollution to our environment. On the occasions when we are building a larger, commercial project we employ the local “green-conscious” furniture finishers, Surface Environment. Surface Environment is committed to only using the best and most environmentally safe products.