I can very much appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into the pieces produced by Sharon and Chris of 16th workshop. In one of his answers, Chris states “we try to balance modernism and craft” and I believe they have successfully merged these two flavors creating some amazing pieces that could be handed down from generation to generation. Click “Read More” to learn more about 16th workshop.
Q: Who is?
16th Workshop is a solo furniture design and production workshop located in Seattle, WA. We are a husband and wife team and we try to balance modernism and craft in an attempt to capitalize on the qualities of each; function, quiet line and composition on the one hand and warmth, presence and authenticity on the other. We work solely in solid native hardwoods from Oregon and use traditional joinery almost exclusively.
Q: What is your background?
I was born and raised in a small timber town in southern Oregon and I was often outside or in the basement shop making something. I also spent a great deal of time on my grandparents 10 acres of walnuts and filberts just outside Eugene, Or. My grandfather was a woodworker & built his home (I still have some of his turning & layout tools) and my dad imparted a lower to the ground do-it-yourself work ethic. My first woodworking project was probably filling a 2×12 with roofing nails to keep me busy in my grandfathers shop. I went to graduate school in architecture where Sharon and I met, both of us working thereafter primarily on public work (libraries mostly) in and around Seattle before starting 16th Workshop.
Q: What inspires you?
The everyday. Sharon and I are great fans of the Eames’ and architects like Aalto and Antonin Raymond and they all seemed to have a great knack for helping us discover the beauty within the everyday. The Eames took tens of thousands of pictures of the simplest things (some may think dumb) that were absolutely delightful. We try to push good design as almost disappearing; instead of screaming for the limelight it should support and highlight the activities of everyday life. Sharon and I also have travelled extensively and seeing how other people live day to day allows great perspective.
Q: What is your preferred material to work with?
Wood. I work exclusively in wood at this point, sometimes cane or pandanus cloth for infill of sliding doors but that is it. I am not a fan of mixing materials or even woods for that matter because what is critical in furniture design for Sharon and myself, is being able to edit and eliminate to gain clarity. I consider it a constraint to work with rather than something that limits us. Also, I think the warmth and character of wood is unmatched when it comes to furniture.
Q: What trends are you seeing in furniture design, good or bad
I think there has always been a good deal of great craft around but great craft in combination with great design has been rare and I think we are seeing more of it now. More people are also rediscovering the value of good, modern design now that we can look back on it a little bit. Novelty in the name of innovation has become a little annoying but that is ever-present.
Q: My favorite______is________
My favorite tropical fruit is the lychee.