The sawdust-covered hands of a furniture maker breathe form and brilliance into fallen logs and limbs, slowly etching the transformation between the first cut and the final product. The finished product is passed down from generation to generation, used for its functionality, revered for its character and relied on for its durability.
Kendrick Anderson, an Atlanta-based furniture maker, was studying English literature in college when he became transfixed with an idea: he wanted to build a table. He had no experience in woodworking, but Kendrick knew he would be able to build furniture; after all, his family history had proven itself.
“My father builds custom homes, and my grandfather owned a sawmill/lumber yard for most of his life,” he explains. “So I guess you could say working with wood is in my blood.” After searching the city for free work in exchange for an apprenticeship, the single-minded student finally landed at a modest custom furniture shop. Following years of apprenticing and studying, Kendrick opened his own eponymous furniture-building shop.
In his early crafting days, Kendrick was drawn to exotic woods and grain patterns, but soon realized the intricacy only served to created tension between the material and the overall form of the piece. “Now I’m predominately working with walnut, white oak and maple. I look for tight, straight grain…boards that will blend together once glued together. It’s the concept of many working together for the greater good of one.”
Mass-produced furniture may be convenient, but there is no art hidden within those homogenized materials. “Handcrafted furniture retains a human element. There are signs of the maker in each piece. It’s the expression of man and tool,” Kendrick says, while noting a three-week build time for each piece.
Kendrick draws his inspiration from mid-century modern proportions, the rejection of ornamentation by the Shakers, and the joinery (how two pieces of wood are held together) of the arts and crafts movement – all together revealing a minimalistic essence that envelopes every piece he creates. “I love the interplay between simple, clean forms coupled with exposed joinery,” he says. “I want my furniture to convey a quiet stillness when viewed from across the room, and yet possess increasing depth when inspected up close.”
Each Kendrick Anderson piece is custom-made, and while clients generally have a broad idea of what they want, Kendrick embeds his aesthetic into their needs, creating a one-of-a-kind piece that will serve generations. “I am humbled by each piece and every client who grants me the opportunity to create something they will use for the rest of their lives.”