Contemporary Woodworking & Design
By Mike Bartell / Woodcraftsman

Custom Cabinetry & Furniture     by Mike Bartell     Master Craftsman 

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Hello, I want to take this opportunity to expand on the word "contemporary" and what it means to me and communicate that to my current and prospective customers.  First of all, I have used the word "modern" almost interchangeably and that is not exactly correct.  Actually, the word modern reflects an era from the 1920's to the 1950's which includes "art-Deco".  Contemporary design incorporates many aspects of the Modern Era, notably strong vertical and horizontal lines devoid of ornate detail.

I tend to think of contemporary design as not only a style or an aesthetic, but a philosophy.  It's getting away from tradition but not completely, it's more of living in a way that suits one's own taste. This may lead to pulling from a few select styles from the past and abroad and combining them in a way that makes sense living in our modern world. That means the utilization of modern engineering, materials and construction methods in a sustainable way.  As a contemporary craftsman, my concern is to serve my customers needs in such a way as to abide by the principles of preserving the environment through the conservation of energy, the efficient use of materials and minimizing the use of toxic substances.

The furniture that I have designed does not belong to any style or period. It slips in and out of traditional and modern in varying degrees, drawing from the aspects of the Arts and Craft, Asian and Danish styles as well as the work of my contemporary mentors, Maloof and Krenov. It can go from organic to industrial to artful, hopefully with a little of each.  I can take a project either way according to my clients sense of style, their utility and cost considerations. Woodworkers all love working with solid wood. That said, there comes a time, early on, when the design constraints of solid wood will not meet the demands of style, utility and cost.  Although I'm not a big fan of plastic laminate, I recognize that those durable surfaces have their place in the kitchen cabinet industry.  Wood veneer, on the other hand, especially with our modern wood finishes can satisfy our demand for the beauty of wood, clear the way for nearly unlimited design possibilities and make practical, the use of fine woods on a large scale. 

Most importantly, I have an ongoing commitment to change as new information becomes available so I can continue to refine what is considered to be contemporary design. Best regards.

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