Reed Hansuld on creating movement using straight lines, trusting your eyeballs and why he never meets half his customers.
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Q & A with Reed Hansuld
How long have you been building furniture?
I’ve been building furniture for 11 years.
What sort of furniture do you specialize in?
Mostly seating and tables. Casework is a pleasant change but I tend to avoid anything “built-in.”
Tell us a couple of interesting things about your personal life?
Always saying yes to adventures, even when the outcome is unclear. Biking fast, eating slow, loud music, quiet mornings, healthy food, unhealthy hours, cold hands, warm heart.
If you were not a furniture maker what would you be?
Do you prefer hand tools or power tools?
One hand washes the other. Machines are indispensable to get you most of the way there, hand tools give you those sweet details that give a piece its identity.
Figured wood or straight grain?
Straight grain, no question. It allows the form to speak for itself; often times I feel figured woods can distract from a well-designed piece. I like looking at incredible boards as much as the next guy, but all too often it seems figured wood is used as a crutch, kind of like a comedian that swears.
Inherited Vintage Stanley Sweetheart or fresh-out- of-the-box Veritas?
When I was a student, my finances allowed for previously loved tools. By the time you have spent hours tuning up an old tool you have a bond that something out of the box doesn’t give you.
Flowing curves or geometric shapes?
A year ago I would have answered flowing curves, no question. More recently I seem to be chasing this idea of creating a sense of movement using only straight lines.
At first glance, it looks as if this seat of this stool is floating in air, and isn’t strong enough to support someone’s weight. Barely visible bracing supports the seat without any problems. (Photo by Janelle Falconer)
This white ash rocker’s fluent curves throughout hint at the smooth rocking motion of the chair.
Quotes from Reed Hansuld
"Furniture design starts in a sketchbook, drawing in both perspective and plan view. Once an idea is decided on, I draft a full-scale drawing by hand. Depending on the piece and my understanding of it, a full-scale mock-up might be required."
"Kill your darlings and love your experiments. Trust those eyeballs, you’ve got to trust your eyeballs."
"Commissioned work pays the bills, speculative work allows for creative freedom and listening to your voice. It seems more and more often now I am finding the best of both worlds – commissioned work with little restriction."
"I’ve never met more than half of clients, and some I’ve never even spoken to. The majority of my work comes via the Internet; frequently it travels south of the border. The amount of contact I have with a client changes on a case-by-case basis."
"Adrian Ferrazzutti is a great Canadian maker. He’s got that “make that cut already” attitude. After all, waiting leaves you dead. Internationally, John Makepeace, Jere Osgood, Mathias Pliessnig, Brian Newell, Brian Reid, David Haig, David Upfill-Brown … I could go on for a long time. Lack of Canadians on this list? Totally. We need to get the word out, ladies and gentleman."
"I hope I am wrong about this, but I feel “studio” furniture will likely not be around in much abundance in 50 years."
"Exposure online is becoming more important every day. These outlets seem to hone in on fresh ideas, sustainable products, clean design and new materials more often than radial matches and silver inlay."
"I got into furniture-making for the same reasons as many – it’s a creative outlet. It also incorporates problem solving and gives me an opportunity to work with my hands."
"Self-employment has lots of benefits, but is a bit of a double-edged sword. It puts you in a position where the only real thing between you and success is yourself. That pressure can be invigorating, but also draining. It allows for freedom in my schedule and in my life, the irony of course being that I find myself in the studio usually seven days a week. Building studio furniture for a living is more of a lifestyle than a job."
"I love looking at the evolution of my work, even if there’s some cringing along the way. Evolution in aesthetic and technique keep the work interesting, keeps me coming back for more."
December January 2014