Maple, Walnut, Pine… I am an outdoor girl. Anything that has to do with the outdoors and the woods, I love. Put me in the middle of a forest and I can tell you the kinds of trees that are there and many different facts about them. But I must admit, aside from the fact that I know that trees can be lumbered to create amazing pieces of furniture, I know virtually nothing about the process.
I also had no idea that there are many extremely talented furniture designers located right here in the Metro Detroit area. In my quest to find out more about “the locals” and what they do, I came across two very talented and unique furniture makers with home bases right here in southeast Michigan. Both create residential furniture and have exquisite portfolios that make me want to run out and redesign my entire home!
The first designer I spoke with was Mark Wilson of Mark Wilson Furniture. Mark started his foray into furniture making as an architect years ago. Though he freely admits that in his estimation, “inside every architect is a furniture designer”. He has been creating custom pieces for years and has fine attention to detail.
Though Mark uses wood from all over the country (and the world) to make his furniture, he does acquire materials from Michigan and has even delved into urban salvage for a few of his pieces. He spoke of the incredible works that can be created using architectural salvage. He likes the idea of saving things and turning them into something beautiful.
Mark certainly knows how to make things beautiful. His pieces are finely crafted and carefully designed. “Design is where it is at,” he told me. “It is all about good form, composition and style”. And when you look at the furniture he creates, you can see the attention to detail that he puts in and the beauty that comes out.
The second furniture maker that I spoke to was Greg Bartelt of Vogue Furniture. Greg knew early on what he wanted to do in life. He started woodworking in his high school shop class and opened his first shop in his parents’ garage!
He also hired a young middle school “apprentice” back in the day to help him. That decision proved to be a good one as that middle schooler, Jim Reilly, still works with him to this day. Jim has taken his love of car restoration and incorporated that into furniture finishing. Greg talked about how the finishing is so important to the beauty and flair it gives to each piece.
From start to finish, Vogue Furniture’s loyal staff carefully crafts every step of each custom piece. That is something in which Greg takes great pride. With the recent tough economic times, it has not been easy for small businesses. However, Greg told me that he hired the best people and “we pulled together. It was all about the team and the product and because of that, we survived.” And they more than survived, they are creating breathtakingly beautiful pieces of custom furniture every day.
To find out more about Mark Wilson Furniture, please visit www.markwilsonfurniture.com.
To find out more about Vogue Furniture, please visit www.voguefurniture.net.