Most commissions begin with a meeting at the client site, either home or office. This initial meeting allows us to begin creating a general design concept. Many clients have images or descriptions of pieces they enjoy that can be used to direct the style of the desired furnishing. After the overall project scope is defined at the initial meeting, an initial price and contract is presented. Once the contract has been approved and a deposit placed, I will usually generate rendered 3-D computer models for client approval. Additional computer sketches will be created, if necessary, for specific project details. These computer models enable me to work back and forth with the client to finalize a design that represents the exact desires of the individual.
Depending upon the size of the project being undertaken, the cabinet-making phase may take between eight and sixteen weeks. Larger built-in projects will require multiple visits to the installation location for measurement and template creation. The process of creating custom handmade furniture is a time consuming and detailed one. Clients are welcome to visit the shop at any time to view progress on their project. At certain times I may request that the client visit the shop to approve specific details or to help work through a particular design issue.
For the past ten years I have been incorporating marquetry and parquetry imagery in the form of flowers, branches, animals, and geometric patterns into some of my furniture. I see the addition of decorative marquetry as a doorway into unique and exiting visual forms and more expressive freedom. Marquetry/parquetry is the craft of covering a structural carcass with veneer forming decorative patterns, designs or pictures. Materials associated with marquetry typically have included wood, ivory, bone, mother-of-pearl, brass and others. My marquetry furniture combines the structural geometry of a man-made object with the asymmetry of nature represented in flower and leaf patterns and motifs.
The majority of the marquetry veneer patterns in my work are cut in the traditional 18th century French Boulle method, also known as the packet cutting method. The Boulle method requires cutting all the elements of the design simultaneously with the background. Cutting is done on a chevalet de marqueterie, or marquetry donkey, which is of French design and is also from the 18th century. The Boulle method can also be done with modern scroll saws. Specific components are then shaded with hot sand to create the illusion of depth and shadows. The veneer work is then glued to the furniture carcass, using a combination of traditional hide glue and modern glues, including epoxy, urea formaldehyde and polyvinyl acetate.
Incorporating marquetry or parquetry images into a custom piece of furniture can add considerable time to the design and construction process, but it allows the client to possess a piece that is truly unique. Each marquetry design is hand drawn leaf-by-leaf and flower-by-flower to create imagery that flows naturally and is true to the artistic vision of the project being created. These marquetry designs typically begin with photos of the shapes and patterns of the flower and leaf design being created. The process then progresses into hand drawings that go through many revisions as the lines and shapes of the individual components of the design are finalized. These final drawings are the cutting template for the marquetry veneer packets and are used throughout the construction process to guide the design to its final finished shape.
Another side of my work explores the highly formal furniture of the 1920’s Art Deco era, primarily work by the designer Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann. The creation of custom furniture true to the Art Deco style requires tremendous focus and discipline and is a welcome change from the more relaxed floral decorations of my marquetry furniture. To build my Art Deco furniture I bring together luxurious materials, outstanding finishes and precise, highly refined veneer work.
I send the majority of my furniture to a professional finishing company in San Diego. This finisher has 25 years of professional experience and is able to provide virtually unlimited finishing options at a quality level not possible in a small-shop environment. The finishing process for many pieces can be very time consuming and labor intensive. I work with my clients to determine the best finish for each piece built: from hand rubbed oil/varnish mixes and lacquers to high gloss polished polyester and everything in between.
Creating custom furniture can be a time consuming and labor intensive undertaking. Some projects are quite simple and take little time while others may take months of labor and numerous design revisions to complete. As a rough guide to pricing a simple custom designed marquetry side table could be between $4000-$7000 depending upon the complexity of the design and marquetry imagery. A custom dining table could be between $9000-$18000 again depending greatly upon the design. A good way to start is to call or email me directly so we can discuss the details of your project and budget before getting too far into the process.
My latest work exploring mechanical furniture and hidden compartments is some of the most expensive furniture I build due to the highly complex design and fabrication process. Depending on the complexity of the internal mechanisms and the variety of hidden details incorporated into the design the cost can easily exceed $30,000 for one of these highly unique pieces.
Please contact me directly to discuss any of your furniture needs.