Trained as an ecologist, I am a professor in the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois where I direct the program in Sustainable Design. Through use of materials and juxtaposition of the natural characteristics of the wood with formal design elements, I seek to express my understanding and appreciation of nature. My work builds off of classic designs by mid-century designers, with an emphasis on craft, joinery and careful selection of woods and grain. I often let the particular characteristics of a board—its edge or grain—influence the overall design. Through design, I seek to remind the user of my furniture of the natural origin of the materials from which it is made.
I use North American hardwoods, mostly harvested locally and sustainably. Much of my wood is from reclaimed urban trees. These trees are removed from urban areas for a variety of reasons (safety, age, construction, or landscaping), and would be destined for chipping, firewood, or landfill. Instead, they are reclaimed by small saw mills into usable lumber. Trees from the urban forest are often unusual species, not often sawed by larger mills. They are also often old and large, with open-growth forms that create more interesting patterns of color and grain. My lumber comes primarily from Johnson Creek Hardwoods in Mt. Carroll, Illinois which is also an Illinois certified tree farm.
Fabrics are selected with the same care as the lumber I use, to complement the design of the piece. Fabrics are mostly reclaimed from excess discarded by furniture manufacturers and diverted from the landfill by firms like Modern Fabrics.
I finish my pieces to invite touching, using a durable polyurethane varnish. I typically use 4-6 coats, sanding between each coat, and hand rubbing the final finish with high-quality furniture wax.
My work has appeared in Fine Woodworking magazine. I have displayed my work at the Art Fair on the Square in Madison Wisconsin, and my work has also appeared at the Indi Go Gallery , Furniture Lounge, and Cracked Glass Gallery in Champaign and Maggie Black in Galena.