Calgary, Alberta furniture maker Seth Christou on sketching, woodworking books and cringing at his past designs.
Q & A with Seth Christou
Built for a client, this black walnut coffee table design has each leg offset from the end of the table at a different distance so it’s not symmetrical.
Chairs and Stool
Christou found the white oak posed certain challenges while template-routing many of the parts to size and shape, as it’s prone to tear-out. This project saw Christou make a total of 10 chairs and stools.
Quotes from Seth Christou
My studio is bright! I’ve put lots of hours in there. I’m positive I spend more time there than anywhere else. I’m outgrowing it now, so I’m currently moving to a bigger space.
I get up early and spend the mornings doing computer work and replying to emails, and then I head into the shop. I also work late.
I would say my Laguna BX band saw is my favourite machine. I spend a lot of time in front of it. I have also become really fond of the Festool system. Lastly, I use a lot of jigs and do a lot of pre-planning on Fusion.
There are so many places to get inspiration from. I study a lot of older work like Juhl, Wegner, etc. My home is full of books on chair design. There is nothing better than the feel of a physical book in your hands. I think that sentiment is lost these days with all of the e-reading.
I rough sketch a lot. I try to draw one new piece a day, or at least think of new ideas. I use Procreate on my iPad with a pencil and then take that into Fusion.
I like to make three different designs based on the original concept/design, which allows me to expand and develop the design before starting to build it.
My number one piece of advice for new woodworkers is don’t be afraid to revise designs and to draw up some crazy funky pieces. They will evolve into something unique that reflects your personality.
Looking back at some of my early pieces I cringe, but then I’m also fascinated by the progress and evolution of my designs.
I absolutely despise the “live, love, laugh” river table / epoxy cutting board trend.
I try to make sure I’m giving updates to my customers frequently. I think one of the most important parts of running a successful business is creating an excellent customer experience.
I think a mentorship program for young woodworkers would be amazing. I also think we need to create awareness around the fact that working for a big corporation is not the only way to provide for your family. If you are passionate about something and stick with it, the money will come.
There are so many great Canadian makers. Mobius Objects here in Calgary rules. Gavin Goodall and Owen Crane, both out of Vancouver. Christian Woo, as well.
Jory Brigham’s Hank chair is one of my all-time favourites.
My partner, Julia, has had the biggest influence over my work. She’s the brains behind everything. None of this would be possible without her support.
I’ve always liked designing new things and being able to work solo.
Being able to be creative and original is the most important thing to me. You see a ton of companies starting up and just building the same thing that the last guy built. Like how many times can a blue epoxy table be “original?”
The design comes before the material.
I like to design before I build. That way the mistake part of woodworking is reduced significantly. When you’re using solid wood, mistakes are expensive.
Aspiring woodworkers should just get into the shop and experiment.
Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.