Tuesday, April 7, 2009

David Hurwitz Profile (Part II)

The following is a continuation of my profile of David Hurwitz that I posted a couple of weeks ago. With David's recent successes in having his work published in a Fine Woodworking book and 500 Tables, I thought it was a good time to interview him (before he became too famous and/or busy) to get a better sense of the origins of his work and to highlight what others could learn from his experiences.

Why Vermont?

David was born and raised across the lake in Plattsburg, NY and while his mother studied at Goddard College (in Plainfied, VT) in the summers he would hang out and bike around with his dog. He also hiked the Long Trail as a student. Although he has lived in other areas, he always felt he would come back to Vermont. He doesn't feel that it has influenced his work as much as his work shares an affinity with the culture and environment of Vermont. Some of the designs he is still using were developed years ago while living in suburban surroundings that didn't match his head space. By living and working in Vermont, he feels that his headspace now matches his surrounding environment.

Why Wood (and not metal, glass, stone, clay?)

David first learned woodworking in a 1st grade woodshop where they taught hand tools. Although he has learned and enjoys many other media, including metal, glass (blowing), jewelery, and concrete, he has returned to wood because
at some point there isn't enough time to learn it all and it is better to master one than be mediocre in many.

Favorite Wood

None, loves them all!


The first name he mentioned was Charles Rennie Mackintosh the Scottish Art Nouveau (early arts and crafts) period furniture maker. David doesn't see any influences in his own work but he greatly appreciates his work. I see a little more similarity with the next name he mentioned Isamu Noguchi, a major sculptor to the 20th Century, but only distantly in that they both use asymmetrical designs and 3-point stands. David is also a great admirer of Carlo Mollino, the Italian architect, photographer, furniture maker, race car driver, and engineer. You can see more direct influences in his work, although where Mollino's designs might be more ridgid and mechanical, Davids are more curved and lively. David also listed Alexander Calder, Dr. Seuss, and "The Jetsons" as influences. Specifically, the small table below was designed with the "Jetsons" cartoon in mind.

"Elroy Table"
©David Hurwitz
Working with Clients

David feels that clients get his best work when they give him basic criteria related to how the item should function and then give him broad artistic license. Also, he truly enjoys commissions that push him to do something he hasn't done before. He finds most individual clients are good about giving him the freedom to create but he has noticed that when dealing with professionals (e.g., interior designers) the end product can sometimes be adversely affected by the "too-many-hands-in-the-pot" syndrome. The lesson being, if you are going to hire David, or any other studio furniture maker because you like their work and their designs, you are more likely to get a great product if you give them design freedom.

Below is a life-sized drawing of a current project that David is working on.

©David Hurwitz
Lessons Learned
David said that, without a doubt, his best career move was moving to Vermont. He has found that it has provided him with a number of good marketing opportunities because there is a focused effort to promote wood products and he hasn't seen the same level of organization in other areas that he has worked. People work together to promote the craft, whether through the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, or the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association. The GVFM has also set up a blog so that follow studio furniture makers can promote their experiences as a group.

As far as his worst decisions, he said he felt they were more learning experiences than mistakes. These lessons include:
-- Be prepared for shows -- the first time David did a crafts show he was ill-prepared with marketing materials and bad lighting. After studying what others were doing, he has since been much better prepared for subsequent shows.
-- It is important to talk to other craft artists to avoid making mistakes they have made, such as always having a signed contract before beginning work on a project.
-- Don't put work in distant galleries with an unproven sales record. David had a bad experience with a gallery about 500 miles away in that they weren't able to sell any of his work; it was a major hassle to get work down there and pick it up; they damaged all of the pieces; and they used his table tops as very elaborate pedestals for other work - rather than leaving them clear as works of art on their own. From this experience he learned to be selective.


As with all woodworkers, having his own spacious studio (rather than renting his current dark, windowless, uninspiring quarters) was first on his list. In addition, he would like to develop stronger gallery connections on a national level. Other desires include developing a better web presence so that he can get more web-based commissions and spend less time traveling to shows; and being able to go on a vacation that wasn't essentially a business trip.

As a final point of interest, below are blocks and drawing of what will be two of David's signature taffy lamps.

All designs and images Copyright 2009, David Hurwitz

1 comment:

  1. fan of your work, also share same name...