I read somewhere that you spent time at a luthier school learning how to make a guitar. Was that the starting point for your love of woodworking?
I have it here actually. I believe that learning to make this guitar was a pivotal moment in my progression as a designer. For a long time I wanted to be a graphic designer, and that’s what I went to school for originally. Through various projects in school, though, I developed a strong interest in making physical objects. And, to me, the ultimate handmade project is a guitar. As I was learning woodworking, I became fascinated by the way a guitar was constructed and I felt like I needed to learn how to do it.
The school was based in Vermont and was very intimate, just four people. You’re living on the teacher’s property in complete isolation: no reception, hardly any wifi. It’s super meditative, and all you do there is make the guitar. We worked from 8am to 8pm almost every day for an entire month. Every piece on the guitar starts as a raw material that’s scraped down to just the right thickness. The neck is fully carved, the sides are steam bent and then you build the bracing structure. The back is rosewood, because you need a stiff wood on the back and a soft wood on the front to achieve a bounce and a resonant vibration.
My favorite part of that summer was waking up, having my coffee and going into the woodshop and having that dust in the air with the morning light. You just know that you’re going to make something really fucking cool instead of a website for some urologist or something. I came back and was infected – there was no way I could go back to strictly graphic design. I learned so much just from making the guitar, about wood and its character and diversity, but also how to use a wide variety of tools.