Here we are, moving out of February and into March. In with the lions, as they say. We have been moving quickly forward here at Huston & Company, but looking back also. 2013 was a big year for us; our 25th anniversary year and a very busy one too. We built approximately 105 pieces of residential furniture last year, and over 250 pieces for colleges, schools, libraries and businesses.
As we reflected, I asked each of the guys to tell me their favorite piece of Huston & Company furniture from 2013. Here’s what they told me…
Bill Huston chose the desk we built for the Town of Winter Harbor, Maine. It’s the story, he tells me, that grabbed him (though the desk is beautiful too). We had a call from a resident of Winter Harbor last summer and she told us that she’d like to purchase a new executive desk for the Town Manager in Winter Harbor. This resident and the Town Manager had come to know each other quite well, she explained to me, and the town was just finishing a new building for their offices. She continued that the Town Manager just didn’t have a suitable desk, and should because “she works so hard.” So we worked with the Town Manager to design a desk that would suit her needs and her new space, and the resident purchased it as a gift to the Town. A wonderful gift, indeed. The desk was built by Saer Huston of solid maple with cherry inlay and was delivered in September.
Ethan Verner built several pieces of furniture for a client in Washington DC this summer. They were unique pieces that are not in our usual design vocabulary. They were also complicated and challenging pieces to engineer and build; each requiring his full attention in the workshop for weeks at a time. This is the reason, Ethan says, he chose two of these pieces as his favorites of the year. These two end chests were designed with concave fronts, with drawers that follow those curves with exacting and precise lines. They were finished by Mitchell Yanosky Furniture, artisans that specialize in elaborate, hand applied finishes. The images below were taken at the Mitchell Yanosky workshop just after completion.
When Saer and Bill designed the first Rivers Table in 2012, I don’t think they expected the design to grow into so many variations. Throughout 2013, Saer completed a number of varieties of Rivers Tables, and then he designed and completed the Rivers Bed. Saer has chosen the Rivers designs as his favorites for 2013 and says that implementing the Rivers concept into so many pieces of furniture has been exciting. The evolution of these designs has been very fluid (not meant as a pun) and the process used to create the rivers is very engaging and expressive. The Rivers Bed is shown below.
When Josh Rice joined us in the fall of 2012, we put him to work immediately on a large order of furniture for Princeton (in fact, everyone worked on that order in the winter of 2012). His work on the Princeton projects continued into the spring of 2013. In the summer though, Josh was readily engaged in a project for a local couple – a built in, walk-in closet. He and Ethan created this beautiful little sanctuary and spent several days installing it in the clients’ home. Josh chose this project as his favorite of the year. He says he liked that it was so all-encompassing and mostly he enjoyed working directly with the customer in the customer’s home for a few days. Wouldn’t we all love a custom closet like this?
And for me? Even though I don’t build the furniture, I get to hear the story behind each piece and I do get to see it all being built. As each piece makes its way through the workshop, I can put a name to it and a story. I know the nuances the customer is hoping to see and I can watch for them to appear at different points of completion. I follow the process from introduction, through design to the workshop and then watch it all unfold. And I get to hear the customer’s reaction when they receive their new furniture. I have the best seat in the stadium. But my favorite piece of 2013 might surprise you. It’s fairly modest. It’s pretty practical. Saer built this piece of solid oak for a customer in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (the end tables too), and Ethan upholstered it. For some reason, it just speaks to me. A bench, a coffee table and two ottomans, all in one.
As we continue into 2014 (and try not to be whiny about the cold) we have some very interesting projects to look forward to for our academic and library clients and are already working on some fun custom pieces for residential customers. We’ll keep you posted.