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Woodworking with Dominique Tutwiler of Oaksmith Furniture

Meet San Francisco-based woodworker and furniture-maker Dominique Tutwiler of Oaksmith Furniture. In this episode we meditate on wood, the art of furniture design and how makers reclaim concepts of home.

Oaksmith Furniture

Dominique Tutwiler is the founder and owner of Oaksmith Furniture. They create handcrafted, custom furniture that is accessible for all. “I grew up in small apartments my whole life and still live in one today. Every square foot counts, which is why I believe that each piece of furniture in your home should be worth the space that it takes up.”

Follow Oaksmith Furniture on Instagram and check out the website to learn more about their work!

Concepts of Home

Yes, we focus on wood, specifically furniture making, for this episode. But we also address the meaning of home, how privilege impacts everyday spaces and how makers can help us all reclaim home.

Every material we explore on the show has so many complex connections, so many threads to follow. Learning more about D’s process and priorities, the concept of home and how material impact our daily lives was a thread I could feel tugging at my brain.

Concepts of home in the Bay Area are already shaped (and threatened) by powerful forces that abuse human rights, specifically the right to housing. And the shelter in place ordinance in the Bay Area and now state-wide in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light how urgently, universally relevant these concepts of home, safety, belonging and stability are to so many of us.

By The Way… Sheltering In Place

I visited Dominique in their apartment for our initial interview on Sunday, March 15th, 2020. The following day, the Bay Area began sheltering in place. Over the course of the month I spent working on the episode, things continued to shift on both a global and local scale.

Staying put every day, creating and working from home, I acquainted myself with wood close by. Like many of us who are staying put, my understanding of home, along with my relationship to my housemates, my community, my sense of self and my sense of purpose has shifted and changed over these weeks.

What might have been a constraint (focusing on the material in my day to day life rather than going on an adventure to a wool mill or ceramics studio like episodes one and two) turned out to be fitting. The role of wood in our homes is enormous, but we might not always notice.

As a furniture designer and maker, Dominique crafts the experience of an object from start to finish: where it will live, the purposes it will serve, the memories it will hold and carry forward.

And so I acquainted myself with the furniture that makes the biggest impact on my daily life.

The wooden table my housemates and I sit at everyday, a table the owner of the house made.

The piano in our living room, where we play and sing and practice.

The light box my grandfather made that I’ve carried with me my entire adult life. It is a tool for tracing, drafting and collaging.

The Material

If you are interested in learning more about woodworking, check out podcasts like It’s Wood by Daniel Carter or watch an episode of the PBS series Craft in America. The piece on memory really shaped my understanding of wood in the context of furniture making, home making and legacy:

Original Music by Lizdelise

As always, we close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. Liz takes inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen to the song on its own here and check out the lyrics below.

This episode I also used underscores by Liz as well as MSFX.

how can we get back 
to where we were before
just the same
only better
just the same
only sweeter
how can we get back
to where we were before
just the same
only softer
just the same
only better
just the same
the same the same
just the same
only stronger
just the same
only better
Published inWood

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