Despite majoring in religious studies, Geoffrey Keating felt a different calling. A desire to work with his hands kept tugging at Geoffrey and, rather than follow a career path into teaching, he jumped head first into woodworking. His style, which he describes as contemporary antique, hearkens back to his long familial history of woodworkers and church builders.
Name: Geoffrey Keating of Keating Woodworks
Location: Just recently moved from South Bend, IN to Colorado Springs, CO into an old 1897 Grocer that my wife and I converted into a studio on the first level and a house on the second.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in a small town in the panhandle of Texas on the Southern Plains. Flat as far as the eye could see with sweeping skies that seemed to swallow you whole.
Where did you study/train? I actually trained at Yale and Notre Dame in religious studies. The intent was to become a professor but there was this ever present desire to do something with my hands, to create, to work in shapes. There is a long history of woodworkers on my mother's side, church builders in the Southwest, so I think I've always had an innate attraction to working in wood. Although I ended up not pursuing a career in teaching, the idea of being anchored in a tradition is something I grappled with in graduate school has very much informed the way I approach designing and making furniture.
What was the first thing you made and sold? It's so nice when someone believes in you before you have a portfolio to stand behind your work. For me that person was my sister. She commissioned a small, simple table in walnut for her kitchen. She now owns several of my pieces and has always been one of my biggest supporters.
Who is your design idol? It's hard to name just one; there are so many designers I admire. In furniture there is Wharton Esherick and I love the flattering lines of fashion designer Alber Elbaz, to name a couple.
Where do you find inspiration? I often look outside my own field. I consider my own style contemporary antique, or neo-traditional and when I see someone doing something similar in another field it's very inspiring. The Border Trilogy of Cormac McCarthy is to me an example of this or the music of Justin Townes Earle. It's also nice when people you know inspire you. My friends over at The Heads of State are always coming up with designs that look like they're from another era but are also very "now". It's lovely to see.
What's one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? The Cello! The perfect instance of form meeting function. Beautiful.
What's your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? Don't do it part time. Most designers and makers I know aren't afraid to take risks with their creations, but I've known so many talented people who are hesitant, from a practical perspective, to dive in and make a go of it. Don't be afraid to take a chance on yourself.
Check out more of Geoffrey's designs at his website: Keating Woodworks.
(Images: Keating Woodworks)