Sustainability

We talk about sustainability, and what we as individuals do to reduce our carbon footprint. I recycle heavily, I live in a small house, drive a Smart Car, and otherwise re-use or re-purpose many things. Call it thrifty, cheap, or conscientious, but I do my small part. I’m able to do more with the company, and we do. Our sustainability position is pretty strong.

As time marches forward, I find myself coveting the past. By this I mean that the things that worked for me years ago seem to have proven themselves over the test of time, and I find that I come across as “old timey” when talking to the newer generations.

The fact is Hardwood Artisans makes solid wood furniture using old fashioned joinery. It works, even if it is an antiquated system using old time tools. I mean, really, when was the last time you saw someone break out a hand plane? Talk about old fashioned…

Think about it. A tree takes in carbon and holds it until it burns or rots in the woods. This carbon is then released back into the environment. By using the tree in the form of furniture, we trap the carbon inside. Well, at least for the life of the piece.

Architect Michael Greene elaborated on this idea when discussing the idea of wooden skyscrapers in a TED video linked below. Greene makes a tremendous case for why we should be using wood instead of concrete or steel to erect these structures. His argument coincides and supports my personal philosophy on lumber being used in a sustainable manner. He also provides compelling statistics regarding demand in the future for housing, overpopulation, homelessness, and the overall shift in living environments.

In tandem to the Greene video, I am reading Dan Brown’s book “Inferno”, a story that revolves around the overpopulation of the planet and some apocalyptic plague purposefully placed to offset this problem. I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to give anything away, but sufficed to say that it gets you thinking.

A chain of unrelated events over the past month have gotten me to look at what we do at Hardwood Artisans with a fine tooth comb. Ken, Greg, and Lois’ retirement, Syria, Michael Greene’s video, recent disputes over climate change have all got me wondering about our position, and with that consideration, I find myself digging in deeper to the roots of this organization that I know will last. Take care of the customer, build a quality product, conduct ourselves in a manner that contributes to the greater good.

The Baton Rouge Bed

Our customers are so often the exact inspiration needed for a new standard product.  Not only are you creative but you are very good designers – no wonder our standard line keeps growing.  This story starts when co-owner Mark Gatterdam met Aaron and Catherine in our showroom.

Aaron and Catherine have always had a fine appreciation for watching things unfold.  Aaron told us, “We have always appreciated furniture and viewed it more as functional art as opposed to things-to-put-stuff-on.”

Their house was built in the 1940’s by Aaron’s great grandfather for his Grandfather and Grandmother to live in.  His ever so handy Grandfather also built houses for his three daughters as well as another one for himself.  I’ll let him tell the rest of the story:

“They are all located in Baton Rouges’ Garden District Area adjacent to Louisiana State University.  Upon my grandmother’s passing Catherine and I decided to purchase the home from my dad and my aunt.  We felt strongly about keeping the house in the family; four of the five houses are still owned by relatives.  Our house is very small by today’s standards, just under 1,000 SF.

Catherine and I purchased it in rough condition.  We are on the tail end of completing a massive renovation.  Because the house is so small everything that goes in must be considered very carefully.  Too much of anything, or anything large and bulky, or the wrong color will weigh the rooms down and cause them to appear very crowded and cluttered.  Catherine and I have considered furniture very carefully.  We drew a lot of inspiration from pieces on display at the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach, California.

Catherine and I try to make the festival each year while visiting her grandparents on the west coast.  We have been considering furniture to fill this house for over three years…  we don’t get in a hurry.

We visited galleries when traveling on vacation and business.  I even considered building some of my own pieces (believe it or not I can hold my own in the shop.)  What initially drew me to Hardwood Artisans was the use of solid hard woods and the oil finish. No one does this for production… are y’all crazy?  Catherine and I chose standard pieces from the Hardwood Artisans portfolio.

bed sketch

We thought we would push you guys just a little bit with the idea of incorporating a more “unique” headboard.  It wasn’t until I saw the Motus Desk at the Culpeper shop that realized exactly what you guys are capable of.  We were hoping that you all could understand our broad design ideas and then use your talents and ideas to create a design that matched us.  That is exactly what you all did.  To me that is infinitely more difficult and personal then simply taking a customer’s design and building it according to spec.  We certainly appreciate the human element and emotional labor that you and your design team have incorporated so far.  We cannot wait to see the final product.

As far as names…  We’ll defiantly throw one in the hat for consideration…  We’ll need to sleep on it.  I’ll let you know our vote.

Aaron

Here are a few pictures of the final bed!

Hardwood Artisans Partners with Broadway Galleries

We are proud to announce a new and attractive business partnership.  Hardwood Artisans is getting into art and framing – well sort of.  We have partnered up with an art and framing gallery in Alexandria, Virginia to keep our showroom walls fresh and beautiful.  The company is Broadway Galleries and they have just as much to offer as we do on a slightly smaller scale.

 

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A Hidden Gem – The Culpeper Airport. Located Right behind our Shop

When we first moved into our new shop in Culpeper I kept hearing about the airport behind our shop.  There was so much vegetation (and snakes) behind the shop it was difficult to see.  I have to be honest I didn’t think much about it.

While I have had the pleasure of getting to know people in Culpeper the kind people at Culpeper Airport reached out to us and offered 20 free airplane rides at our Lemonade Social.  What a wonderful offer!  You can sign up for a ride by clicking here.

I went over to the airport this week and had the opportunity to take a tour.  I am still amazed and delighted at the neat treasures the airport has to show off.  They have a whole Commemorative Air Force (CAF) hanger dedicated to storing incredible older and historic planes – not to mention a British armored fighting vehicle – a Ferret Scout Car.  Most of the planes in the CAF hanger still fly!  Check out this plane:

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The Landscape Expert: Jo Fleming

In our Fairfax showroom: Jo Fleming

Ellipse at Dumbarton Oaks in acrylic/mixed media on canvas - $4900

I stumbled on Jo and her outstanding abstract paintings during last year’s Great Falls Art Studio Tour.  And even though that was last October, her work never left my mind.  Jo’s artwork fits in beautifully with the furniture in our Fairfax showroom.

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The Nature Expert: Margot Miller

In our Rockville showroom: Margot Miller

Caribbean Sky in oil - $275

North Country Sky in oil - $275

I made the long drive out from Arlington, VA to Easton, MD to meet Margot. And boy was I happy when I got there. Margot is such a wonderful host, not just in her studio and home, but her whole town. She took me on a tour and told me a little bit about the history of the area.

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Goodbye Woodbridge, Hello Culpeper!

At the end of the year 2011 Hardwood Artisans will move its whole woodshop and its employees to our recently purchased new shop space in Culpeper, Virginia.  We have spent most of our Hardwood Artisans life in Woodbridge, Virginia building furniture for you, your family members and your friends.  We have been expanding over the past ten years at about a rate of about 3%.  We are hoping this will continue for years and years to come.

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Lemonade Social Feature – 3-day Walk for the Cure

Hardwood Artisans is excited to announce that Lois Gloor, our first original employee, has joined the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure. It’s a 3-day walk billed as the “biggest, boldest event in breast cancer [research] history.”

Lois first became aware that the issue of breast cancer was increasing when one of her long-time customers at Hardwood Artisans was diagnosed with it. And then, her daughter’s future mother-in-law was diagnosed. Lois decided that there needed to be better ways to detect and cure the problem.

Lois’s Daughter, the founder of the Gloor Bassler Group

“My daughter asked me to join her team to raise funds for cancer research. Since it involves walking 20 miles per day for three days straight, I’ve started preparing. Hopefully I’ll be ready by the date of the event.”

We’re positive that Lois will do great!

To help Lois get to the donation goal of $2,300 (hopefully more), we will have donation options available at our Lemonade Social. If you can’t make it out on July 16th to our Woodbridge shop, you can call 800-996-3DAY to donate for Lois Gloor over the phone or visit her page to donate online.

We’re excited to have such great opportunities available at our Lemonade Social and can’t wait for July 16th!

For more information about the donation process, you can visit the website at http://www.the3day.org. If you want more details on our Lemonade Social, visit our website.

The Big Dollhouse

I really enjoy designing custom cases for people. I like the customers I work with, and find them all interesting, and I like to get personally invested in projects. If I spent my career just making shiny boxes, I think that would be very boring. Rather, I spend a lot of time getting to know the needs and wants of my customers, and as a result, a lot about the customer themselves.

Cliff and Donna came in to see me this winter. They had just moved back to the area from Alaska, and were in need of a custom wall system to hold a variety of things.

This was all normal stuff at first. Then we discussed scale. Donna showed me the fireplace. It was huge, larger than any fireplace I had personally seen. The room was enormous. The ceilings were very high. The job was now to design an eclectic looking piece that fit the space as well as complimenting the array of objects collected during their many travels.

When Donna told me she wanted a cabinet ten feet tall, twelve feet long, and thirty-two inches deep, I thought she was a bit delusional (sorry Donna-we love you). Once she pulled out her ipad and showed me pictures of the space, I understood the scope of the project. Scale is a driving force to any design, but I find that the space a cabinet sits in also defines the project.

We sat down and walked through all of the ‘this and that’ about what the unit would hold. I really did not know how this would work out. After several hours of AutoCAD, I finally figured out how to do this. Working a design is all good, well, and fine, but you have to execute the task, transport the unit, and get it installed. The sheer size of this job made me re-think how we build cases.

Once the case hit the shop, the lead craftsman and my buddy, Brent, proceeded to question every detail and decision. He always does this. I think he takes a bit too much pleasure doing this, but he is very good, so I really can’t complain too loudly (he’s a little fussy, don’t you know, like most good craftsmen). Due to the depth, he suggested two sets of lights, two in the back and two in the front, to ensure proper illumination.

Brent also suggested adding a top to the crown. This was great for me because I felt the crown was small, relative to the size of the cabinet. I had not come up with a good solution for increasing the scale. This top added a little more mass to the whole effect.

Lastly, Brent wanted to add a second back to the TV area. In today’s world, we don’t need a 32” deep TV cabinet. The “false” back keeps the space from looking cavernous, hides the wire management, and keeps anyone from having to dust way back in the cabinet.

The last problem was the actual execution of installing the cases. I had designed it to come in nine sections – six cases and three platforms. The real problem was that two people could not lift sections of the wall system. The center hutch alone weighed about 250 pounds. They had to strip the cases of all the doors, drawers, shelves, etc. and bring a third man. Oops, looks like I owe someone lunch, again.

The installation took over 12 hours. We had already included things like wire management and vents in the plinth to allow for air flow from the vents we were covering in the floor. The fact that a lot of parts had to be removed added to the time.

I think the overall system turned out just the way I had envisioned. Cliff and Donna have told me that they are pleased with the final results. More important, I had a very pleasant experience getting to know these two lovely people, and I got to solve a problem for them. Like I said, I consider this the best part of the job, and I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Mark Gatterdam

Saturday, June 4th Event in Alexandria – Color + Cabinetry

Saturday, June 4th

Join us on Saturday, June 4th for talks on the principles behind the psychology of color, how to choose the right color for your home, where to begin when designing a built-in and the current color trends for the home.  There will be wine, drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  We hope to see you there!

 

Location:

Hardwood Artisans – Bradlee Shopping Center

3622 King Street. Alexandria, VA – 703.379.7299

www.hardwoodartisans.com

A problem solving built-in design by Hardwood Artisans Alexandria showroom manager Larry Northrop

 

Event Timeline:

11am: Built-Ins…  Where to Begin?

By designer & craftsman Larry Northrop

12pm: The Psychology of Color Selection

By designer Denise Willard

 

1pm: Envision Color 2011

By color expert Alitia Cross

 

Event Details:

11am  – Built-Ins…  Where to Begin?

By designer & craftsman Larry Northrop

Larry Northrop has been in the woodworking business for 40 years.  He has designed hundreds of built-ins, from custom kitchens and space saving solutions, all the way to cabinetry and desks in the executive office at the White House.  Learn what you should know before you begin, and a few tricks from the trade.  Please bring any questions you have.  Larry will make time to answer them.

There are all kinds of space saving solutions you can utilize with built ins.

This built-in is a white board, a table, and a Murphy bed!

12pm  -  The Psychology of Color Selection

By designer Denise Willard

Are you looking to update the colors inside your home this spring, but are overwhelmed by all the choices?  Do you want to learn some of the secrets professionals use in selecting just the right colors?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this talk is for you.

Learn about the principles behind the psychology of color.  Learn why red is most often used in dining rooms and blue in bedrooms.  Learn how your body reacts to certain hues and how a local design professional uses this knowledge in selecting the right colors for her clients.

How does this room make you feel? Design by Denise Willard.

1pm  – Envision Color 2011

By color expert Alitia Cross

Alitia Cross will talk on the current color trends for the home.  She has been in the design industry for years and currently represents Benjamin Moore & Co.  She is a sales representative for the architectural & design community.  There will be time after the talk to answer any paint or color questions.

If you have any questions prior to the event, call Julianne at 703-643-1044 or e-mail her at Julianne@hardwoodartisans.com

Could this work in your home?