Beston Barnett Design

fine custom furniture and woodworking

Commission

bbdsketch800To commission a piece of furniture for the first time can be scary. But compared to the stress and compromise of sifting through endless websites, auction catalogues, and warehouses in search of something that’s in your head but doesn’t seem to exist yet, commissioning is actually a beautiful process. You, the client, get to actively exercise your own aesthetic sense, you get exactly what you want, and you can be confident that the piece is truly well-made, truly a long-term investment. For myself as the maker, I get the very real peace of mind that comes to an artist who really understands his audience; I get the certainty that the piece will be used and appreciated as it was meant to be. In this sense, a commission is liberating for both client and maker.

Of course, it would be silly to approach me if you’re not already attracted to my previous work in some way. My design vocabulary is by no means set in stone: I’ve experimented with many kinds of joinery, many forms, materials, and styles of ornamentation. But I do believe there is a hard-to-define philosophy that runs through my work – something about function, about questioning form, and about the gleam of well-finished solid wood – and if it resonates with you, then we may be perfect partners to embark on a piece of furniture together.

bbdcolor800First, we go over your vision. What is the piece for, where will it go, how will it function, what is its mood? If possible I like to see where it fits into your home, and I may encourage you to take a long view of the piece: how can it be used if you change rugs, change houses, pass it on to your children? Early on, we try to settle on dimensions, to fit the piece to your body and your home. Then, we can talk about style, ornament, wood species, finish, hardware, and all the other details that go into giving a piece of furniture its unique character.  Finally, we agree on a schedule, and a first payment gets me started buying and cutting wood.

As a one-man shop with a high standard of craftsmanship, my work takes time, both design and manufacture. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a significant piece out the door in under a month: turn-around is more likely two or three months since I generally have a few commissions going at once. I can and do bring in other craftspeople to help on larger commissions, but there is no getting around the basic time constraints of the work.

Lastly, a word about pricing: most first-time clients are anxious about the perceived high cost of custom work. It’s true that I can’t compete with IKEA or Crate & Barrel (though I like to think they can’t compete with my craftmanship, quality materials, and design rigor). However, because I share a woodshop with a number of other like-minded craftspeople, I have very little overhead which means my relatively low prices cover only two things: wood and time. The wood you’re buying is locally sourced and is treated with respect; like any other precious natural resource it has intrinsic value and beauty. My time is spent in a labor of love, and each hour of this “good work” imbues your piece with a personal meaning for us both.

Let’s get started!