In November of 2007 the Minnesota Woodworker’s Guild held the annual Fall Seminar at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). It was an excellent two and a half day event hosting Marc Adams of the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I highly recommend Marc as a speaker at a guild or club event if your group plays host to speakers.
Part of what made the event such a good time were the facilities available at MCAD. They not only have a commerical class wood shop, metal fabrication, and casting facility, but their staff was very accommodating and knowledgeable. Over the course of the weekend, I learned from on of the committee members that they offer 10-week Continuing Studies courses for a VERY nominal fee – $385 for ten weeks of 3 hours classes on Saturday monrings and then all the shop time you can squeeze into your schedule between 8 am – 1 pm and 6 pm – 9 pm Monday through Friday. The shop is also open 12 – 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. For a Minnesotan without a heated shop, this was the best deal I’d heard of in a long time! I signed up for the class the first day of open registration.
The class was led by a guy named Willie Willette. Willie operates a one-of-a-kind studio in Minneapolis. He and his team do some fantastic stuff. His website is WillieWilletteWorks.com. He comes a background of museum work and has been running his studio for about 17 years.
The first day of class was insteresting as we talked about design, function, and what makes furniture “successful” vs. simply a studio piece. This lead us into a discussion about one of the basic tenets of the class. Willie challenged us to stretch our boundaries but to design a piece that was contemporary as well as functional. The class ended with an assignment to research at the library, some suggested studios (in addition to his), and any other inspirational source that we could find. I hit the library.
I had no idea what I was going to do for sure. I didn’t know the class was going to have as much of a direction toward the Contemporary aesthetic as Willie was giving us. I decided this was a good thing though. I had a few things in mind but was going to keep my mind open and just let something that really caught my eye dictate my direction. I checked out 8 books and brought them home and started pouring over them.
I won’t go into all the subject matter i reviewed or the designers. However, something did jump off the page at me. It was in a book titled Tradition in Contemporary Furniture edited by Rick Mastelli and John Kelsey. The title alone was not that inspiring but it did have a great piece of furniture on the front.
-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN