Meet the Maker: Michael Robbins

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Michael Robbins is a designer who handcrafts each piece of furniture in an old barn in the Hudson Valley of New York. With a background in photography, Michael learned his woodworking skills while helping build a handmade house in Vermont. Learn more about Michael in his Meet the Maker profile after the jump...

Name: Michael Robbins
Location: Livingston, NY

Where did you grow up? I grew up in rural upstate New York, on the southern edge of the Adirondacks in what is known as the Mohawk Valley.
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Where did you study/train? I went to art school in New York where I studied photography. After that I worked on trail crews in the Adirondack Mountains which lead to an opportunity to work on a remote hand made house in Vermont. It was a small timber framed cabin without electricity. There I learned a foundation of skills from a very talented woodworker. That lead to building a small adobe in New Mexico after which I bought my first lathe and made my first stool.

What was the first thing you made and sold? My first sale was a large color photograph to a photography collector. The picture was of a low slung industrial park next to a large round hill, everything was covered in a dusting of fresh snow, everything was beautiful and white.  

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Who is your design idol? Out of the hat it's Hans Wegner, an incredibly prolific designer.

Where do you find inspiration? There's a Dutch barn being built down the road from me, two guys harvested the timber, sawed it on a bandsaw mill and are now cutting the joinery. It's all white oak, some members 16" deep by 25 feet long. The other week they were out there working when it was right around ten degrees outside. A true labor of love.

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What's one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? The wrap around Shaker pegboard.  

What's your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? I'm sort of in those shoes, which makes me reluctant to give advice. I try to set daily goals, work hard, stay focused, all the while letting things flow. I always save time at the end of the day to take the dogs on a walk.

To see more of Michael's work, check out his website: Michael Robbins Furniture.

(Images: Michael Robbins)