Two years ago I had the pleasure of working with a new homeowner through my colleague, Penny Drue Baird http://PennyDrueBaird.com. This gentleman was setting up his modern living in West Chelsea just off of Seventh Avenue, and being that he is in real estate, he knew what he was doing when he picked this sun drenched location. The entire south side is all windows!
I was asked to build three pieces: An entertainment piece, a desk and a built-in credenza for the bedroom.
As I thought about what to write for this piece, I came to the conclusion that in this day and age, we have established all the different types of furniture pieces that we will probably ever need: Dressers for clothes, chairs for sitting and tables for dining. Sure there are other common items that I haven’t mentioned, but my black walnut and koto credenza fits in with all the other credenzas of the world. It’s a pretty standard piece.
What sets it apart, however, is the decorative work on the face. The black walnut body simply “frames” the lighter dyed koto doors and focuses the eye on the fun stuff; The cherry, the grape, the bling. I wanted to do something different and thought, “how many furniture people play with round shapes and two different grain directions? Not to mention installing metal strips. Maybe some consider it, but not too many do it.”
In terms of the dyed koto veneer, it’s pretty cool stuff. This is the second batch I’ve played with. The first batch was a beautiful nickel/oatmeal color with a lot of intricate grain patterns. When finished, it shimmered and “moved” like mahogany when viewed from different angles. Please see the Silver Leaf Commissioned Armoire https://markluedeman.com/commissioned-silver-leaf-armoire/.
About a year ago, a designer friend of mine, sent me some photos of a pair of antique shagreen and walnut side tables. They were for sale by a reputable dealer, but the shagreen was stained and the wood was worn. The question was, “Could they be rehabilitated, and would it be cost effective?” Based on the asking price, apparently, not. So I was asked to create a duplicate pair of art deco tables.
In the spring of 2016, I was flipping through an interior design book and came across a silver table lamp crowned with a red silk shade. It’s beauty captivated me, and I began to think about the possibilities which soon led me astray. So, for the next few weeks, I satisfied my creative needs by producing lamps like the silver and palladium leaf ones shown above.
Though deeply inspired, I wanted to transcend the simplicity of what I had seen. Both my lamp and theirs conveyed a sense of “stability” with flared bases, only mine was to be a bit more elaborate. I also felt the need to embellish the top with a “cap” to properly “finish it off.” So I put my rough ideas down on paper and then quickly jumped to creating scale drawings, which confirmed I was right on track.
It wasn’t long after I turned 50 that I realized 70 was coming up fast. “It’s time to get busy, and express your creativity,” I thought. This small harlequin cabinet is the result of my efforts.
It all started with a desire to play with bold patterns of veneer, otherwise known as parquetry. So I picked up my pen and drew a few shapes. I love playing with curves and thought it would be stunning if I married the pale blond veneer of english sycamore to the dark richness of black walnut in matching squares or rectangles….. And then doing it over and over again.
I have to admit, I have a lot of fortune in my life. In the spring of 2016, I was asked by a designer to create a Macassar ebony dining table for her Park Avenue client in New York City. In reality, it was really two tables that could be joined by adding two center leaves making one large table for family and friends.
For the first few months, the designer and I worked to create a plan that would “bring her vision to life:” Two square tables sitting on pedestal bases.
At the beginning, the client requested a starburst veneer pattern for the tops, but after presenting several options, I encouraged her to go with a more traditional “frame within a frame” pattern using Macassar ebony. I thought it would be the best solution and wouldn’t fall out of favor in the years to come.
As one would imagine, working with designers often means, “Here, build this, but change the color and shape to fit the client’s needs.” In late 2015, this little kitchen banquette project came my way and I was asked to copy something I had done several years ago. But the more the designer and I looked at the previous project, the more we realized it needed some changes. And so that’s what we did.
I’ve been toiling away for 30 years now and it’s kinda fun to think that my creations are all over New York City. They’re uptown and downtown. Eastside and West. A few months ago, this curved desk landed on the 43rd floor of a glass tower overlooking Times Square. Guess this is the “loftiest” piece I have in town! Ha! What a view!
In the spring of 2016, my client, Dessins, LLC asked me to design and build this piece. We knew early on that it would be made of rift white oak, but weren’t sure what the finish would look like. After a summer of working on my own projects in Beacon, it was time to bring this piece to life. I presented a variety of drawings, showing the desk in relationship to the space, but they could only convey so much. So it was necessary to create a life-size cardboard mock-up and deliver it to the space. I wanted the person actually using it to see how it fit in his office. Within a day or two, I was asked to trim a couple of inches from the length and width. Then get busy.
“What is the roll of a frame?” To me, a frame is supposed to focus the eye on the art within. But I ask,”Can a frame be just as interesting as the artwork and not create a contentious relationship? We’ve all seen great paintings hanging in museums with spectacular frames, and I often find myself asking, “Does that frame help, or hurt the piece that it surrounds?” Most of the time the two are well paired, but, on rare occasions the two form a relationship that exceeds expectations. In my opinion, a great piece of art can withstand the challenge of a great frame, so long as the relationship of the two has been well negotiated.