Formal Furniture

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Emkay Woodcrafting takes pride in offering a variety of casual and formal furniture. All designs are by M.J. Keers, but we are comfortable working in a variety of styles, inspired primarily by the uncluttered functional statements made by the Shakers, the Arts & Crafts Movement, James Krenov and various Modern and contemporary schools of design.

The Shakers believed "that which has in itself the highest use possesses the greatest beauty". This philosophy was restated simply in the early 20th century when Louis Sullivan declared "form follows function". We embrace this philosophy.

Our approach to furniture design encompasses four primary objectives: function, comfort and livabilty, durability, and appearance. First of all, a piece of furniture must be functional; whether a chair, sideboard, coffee table or bed it should serve the purpose for which it is designed. Second, it should be comfortable to use. We are not only talking about the comfort of a chair for sitting for example, but the way the piece integrates itself into your daily life and enhances your lifestyle. Comfort and livability means a table that is the proper height for its intended use; or a chest of drawers that holds what it's designed to hold, with the drawers offering a satisfying feel, just the correct resistance and smooth operation. Livabilty also means an easy to maintain finish, a design that is uncluttered and easy to clean.

Altho we've listed 'durability' third, it is of primary importance in the design and crafting of all projects. The life expectancy of a piece of furniture depends on it's particular function and use. Often-used heirloom quality furniture may expect to have a cabinet door or drawer opened and closed hundreds or thousands of times over the generations the piece will be enjoyed. Drawers should slide smoothly and stay together for decades or longer. Everything has a useful lifetime, but the furniture we design and build stresses the materials and construction methods shown to last for many generations, centuries in fact for quality antique furniture.

Finally, appearance is more than the initial impressions of shape, color, the type of wood; appearance incorporates an enduring form. Fashionable furniture often falls out of fashion. Appearance implies a pleasing timeless quality to the design that will be appreciated by future generations as much as by the present owners.

Of course appearance also involves the choice of materials--the type of wood and its figure, the finish chosen for the wood, whether natural or enhanced with stain, and the final protective finish such as hand-rubbed oil and wax, lacquer, shellac or varnish. The chosen hardware and its finish also plays an important part in the overall appearance.

In formal furniture we prefer to let the natural beauty of wood make its own statement, unstained yet enhanced and protected by low luster oils, waxes or lacquer. Of course we strive to please the client, and the use of stains or higher gloss finishes are embraced where called for. For example, one place where we feel stains are appropriate is in the 'recreation' Arts & Crafts (or Mission-style) inspired pieces we produce, as the round tea table to the right shows. We hesitate to use the word 'reproduction' for such pieces, as that implies an accurate copy of an older work, rather than a contemporary interpretation. The original Arts & Crafts furniture, as exemplified by the Stickleys, William Morris, and other well known Movement names, was often fumed, a process that darkens the wood and simulates aging. After a century of natural aging, these original fumed pieces are often even darker, nearly black in some cases. This dark and aged appearance is part of the allure of this particular style, and we carefully apply proprietary stains and techniques to simulate an antique appearance. Click here see some of our Mission Furniture.

We will have more to say on design and finish along with the studies of individual pieces. Please click on the smaller pictures at right to see larger pictures (which open in new windows) and similar works, and further discussion of each piece.

Once again, each item shown is unique, and was either commissioned and delivered to a client or was built on a speculative basis and may not be available due to prior sale. We would be pleased to work with you on your own unique item, and we hope you find something to your liking here, or perhaps a starting point for a truly custom piece.

Since each piece is custom designed and built to order, prices (where given) should be used for reference purposes only. The particular final design, materials and finish, and delivery will determine the ultimate price.

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