Three furniture makers who interpret the work of the original Arts & Crafts movement, taking inspiration from Greene & Greene, Wright, Voysey, and others. Meet Darrell Peart, Debey Zito, and Tim Celeski.
A native of eastern Washington, Darrell Peart discovered he had a knack for woodworking early on, first selling wooden planters at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. From the age of 25 or 26, he’d hold a day job in a woodworking shop, then work on his own projects every night. Peart has been making extraordinary furniture inspired by the designs of “Ultimate Bungalow” architects Charles and Henry Greene for more than 20 years.
Ironically, he initially didn’t appreciate the Greene & Greene style, preferring the work of Russian studio-furniture maker James Krenov (1920–2009), who is still a major influence. Then a colleague loaned him one of the first books written about the Greenes, Randall Makinson’s influential Greene & Greene: Furniture and Related Designs (1979).
Peart spent the ’80s working in a more traditional Arts & Crafts genre, then made his first Greene-inspired piece around 1988. He has since designed and built perhaps a hundred pieces inspired by brothers Greene. His work is considered in the top echelon of American studio furniture. Although his designs make use of Greene elements, Asian forms, and familiear materials such as mahogany and ebony), Darrell’s work is uniquely his own. For instance, “there’s a way I treat stiles and rails that are a Krenov thing,” he says.
Peart, who does almost all the woodworking for his furniture himself, says he finds the design process the most enjoyable part of making furniture. He tries to visualize that each piece has its own DNA and is part of the organic world, with design elements that unfold from that. “These are not questions for the intellect,” he writes in his blog. “We must call on our emotional nature for the answer— we must close our eyes and let our imagination and intuition play out the scenario.”
Considered one of the top furniture designers in the country, Darrell Peart has written for many publications, including Woodwork, Woodworker’s Journal, and Fine Woodworking. His first book, Greene and Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop was published in 2006 by Linden Press. It offers a step-by-step workshop guide to creating signature Greene & Greene design elements, as well as background on the brothers and John and Peter Hall, who built the architects’ furniture. His second book is due in 2013. Darrell regularly leads woodworking workshops throughout the year in locations across the country. Upcoming classes are listed on his website: furnituremaker.com
A member of the board for the Thorsen House, a Greene & Greene masterpiece in Berkeley, Peart was recently asked to design a bed for the house’s permanent collection. He played with the design for months, but nothing seemed to gel. Then, the right idea struck: “In about 10 minutes I had it.
“I get an inferiority complex when I think of Charles Greene,” Peart says. “His first pieces of furniture weren’t anytworse than what mine were, yet in a couple of years, he was designing pieces that are better than anything I’ve ever done. He had a very fertile brain. I’m more likely to fuss over a design for a long time. He just went, ‘boom, boom, boom,’ and they were all winners.”
— Mary Ellen Polson
Darrell Peart Furnituremaker
Seattle, WA : (425) 277-4040, furnituremaker.com
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