You will definitely want to see all of the beautiful items, which I appreciate even more now that I started woodworking myself. Check out how an interesting nickname inspired the name for his shop, why he thinks his store is uncommon (I agree!), and his philosophy on voting with our dollars in the interview below. Also, we have not one, but two giveaways PLUS a promo code for all of my readers. Amazing, right? Enter below, but first tune in for the awesome interview. Enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about yourself!
I am an architect, painter, woodworker, and proud native Kentuckian. I spend a lot of time thinking about this cross-disciplinary approach to life and the advantages it has over rote specialization. And what a cross-disciplinary approach doesn’t fix, bourbon will.
Where did the name of your store come from?
The “Honey” in Workshop Honey is actually a nod to the nickname I picked up in my college days, hanging around my favorite coffee shop in Lexington where my barista girlfriend worked at the time. Every day I stepped through the door I would be a greeted with an enthusiastic “Hey Honey!” and it wasn’t long before my name was permanently supplanted. There must be something memorable about being introduced to a 6’-5” bearded man simply as “Honey”. Ultimately, I settled on “Workshop” over other descriptions like “Studio” or “Atelier” because it carries a certain blue collar, common sense ethic that is closely aligned with my philosophies.
Why did you start making goods for Workshop Honey?
I hate driving to Ikea! And for me, necessity is the mother of all invention. When I need a coffee table or shelving, I ask myself: “How can I pull this off with the tools and materials at my disposal?” This typically sets in motion a series of designs and prototypes. If all of those elements coalesce harmoniously and are thoroughly vetted by real world use, they might make it into production at Workshop Honey. Basically, all the items I make available start from a fierce do-it-yourself mentality.
What is your favorite item?
It’s difficult to choose favorites but the coffee table/ bench strikes all the right tones for me: it’s lightweight and airy but strong as an ox, owing to a logical orientation of the plywood that utilizes its inherent structural properties. But perhaps most importantly, it expresses the varied surface quality of the material and leaves room for a little fun. It’s endlessly customizable and delightfully practical.
What is your most popular item?
The salt-n-pepper shakers tend to get a lot of attention at the fairs in which I’ve participated. They are small, pleasant to the touch and just so darned cute.
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
Rather than rifle through countless images and design trends, I tend to approach a design problem by establishing a few initial parameters and let the properties and characteristics of the material guide my choices. This is an extension of the modernist architectural dictum that form follows function. If I find that I’m pulling my hair out over a fussy detail or process, often it is simply the wrong solution. Aesthetics are achieved when the material and its connections are orchestrated in a seamless way to solve a problem. The truly difficult task is to make it seem effortless!
What makes your store unique?
I’m not sure “unique” is the right word. I do however employ an uncommon start-to-finish approach. From the nest of idea to the final finish, all aspects of the design and construction are personally handled. I am a believer in product research and go to lengths to incorporate materials that are sustainable and American-made whenever possible. We as makers have a responsibility to the consumer to promote stewardship of the environment as well as recognizing that an object exists in time and space, meaning that it will have a lifecycle, a history, and perhaps a story all its own. I like to think that ultimately, the pieces I make embody this spirit.
What is the toughest part about making your goods/your artistic process?
The toughest part, by far, is finding the time to explore all the ideas!
Do you take custom orders?
I build custom items all the time! Many times, people will come to me with ideas or examples of furnishings they like and I provide sketches for how it might be achieved within my process and material sensibility. Strictly speaking, there is no wrong or right way—it’s more of a conversation to get at what really turns people on about a particular form. Everyone (thankfully) is different. I embrace these challenges because they often generate very interesting insights. I also do custom framing!
Where can I see more of your work and buy a gift?
Are you going to be at any shows soon, so I can see your work in person and say hello?
Please keep an eye out for upcoming events here in Los Angeles like Unique LA and the Renegade Craft Fair! There are so many wonderfully talented and genuinely nice folks that are part of these events. The creative energy is almost palpable and it’s inspiring to see people following their passions.
Anything else to add?
I’m encouraged by the growing awareness of the importance of shopping locally and the recognition that it’s the little idiosyncrasies that make a place a place. Every dollar we spend is a vote. We all have the power to affect positive change simply with our buying choices!
Definitely swing on by Honey Workshop's Etsy shop or website to see more gorgeous items and additional pictures of the ones you saw here. Simply inspirational!
First up, James is offering a coupon to his Etsy shop to my readers good through December 31st 2014. Use the code 2014ZEST to receive 10% off any purchase at the checkout. Enjoy!
Now, if you are ready to win one of two sets of beautiful salt and pepper shakers, enter using the two widgets below. They would be wonderful additions to your table, and I think they are just adorable! It is open to all U.S. residents, so get entering!