Apartment Therapy Interviews: Kurt Dexel of Dexel Crafted

Apartment Therapy Interviews: Kurt Dexel of Dexel Crafted

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Rachael Grad
Jun 4, 2010

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Dexel Crafted's gorgeous wood pieces stood out to me at ICFF 2010. Designer Kurt Dexel answered some questions about his designs and lifework including this gem of advice: "When I first went out on my own someone said 'Do what you love and the money will follow'…Do not listen to these people — they are crazy. You will have to do some things you hate as well."

How did you come to be a furniture designer?
Truthfully, somewhat by accident. I became a craftsperson first and the interest in design followed.

What was the first piece of furniture you made?
I'm a self-taught craftsperson and my initial interest was in more traditional methods of building. My first serious piece of furniture was a replica of a Shaker rocking chair which was a sheer test of patience. It took nearly 200 hours.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?
I find that when I am working in my shop on a certain piece of furniture it will often lead to other ideas. If you have an open mind, even the left over pieces of wood, or off-cuts, from a project can inspire, which is how I came up with the initial idea for the Boomerang chair and love-seat.

What's your favorite material to work with and why?
Wood of course! I'm a big fan of black walnut probably for its beauty as well as its workability. Lately, I'm liking the look of white oak.

Which interior or furniture designers, past or present, do you most admire?
I recently read a book about the work of Vladimir Kagan. His work and his story are amazing. At 80+ years old, he is still going strong and producing relevant work. A truly inspiring person.

Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.
Honest, clean, hand-crafted, quality.

What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a piece?
Well-made. No matter what I'm building I want to feel confident that an appropriate amount of thought and time was put into the piece to ensure its quality. This starts with design and ends with finishing.

What 5 things does a well designed home need?
People, light, space, efficiency, wood furniture naturally.

What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
I don't think anyone goes into this type of thing without having a passion for the work. I am most content when I'm in my shop building furniture. However, passion isn't enough. Running a small business also entails less exciting, but just as important, aspects such as sales, accounting and marketing. These things take up more of my time than I had thought.

When I first went out on my own someone said "Do what you love and the money will follow"…Do not listen to these people — they are crazy. You will have to do some things you hate as well.

MORE INFO: Dexel Crafted

Images: Dexel Crafted, Rachael Grad

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