American Made Show: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you arrived where you are today.
David Klenk: I come from a family of craftspeople. My grandfather worked at the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company in Buffalo, New York. My family holidays were filled with stories of what we were making and what projects my relatives were working on. After high school I went to a two year college that had a wood shop. Sadly, we students spent most of the time in the drafting class, and the materials laboratory doing more technical courses. They were frustrating but very helpful in the long run because they gave me a stronger sense of how to build things that were sturdy and durable. Eventually I moved to California and, by coincidence, a fine woodworking school had just opened about two hours away. It was the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking program, and it gave me everything I needed to learn about making furniture. After graduating I moved to Maine in search of a home and workspace that I could afford to buy. It took five years but we did it and five years later I had my business up and running in the barn next to the house.
AMS: What does the creative process entail for you?
David Klenk: I loved reading Betty Edward’s books and think her writing and the writing of Daniel Kahneman has given me an understanding of what creativity is. It is a form of intuitive recognition. Although it seems mysterious, the researchers have a clear understanding of how it works and how best to use creativity to solve difficult design challenges.
AMS: What event or experience pushed you to take on art full-time?
David Klenk: Having a furniture shop has been my career focus since I was in my teens. I worked at many different jobs in my teens and twenties. Since high school I worked at part-time or full time jobs so I could do more woodworking. It has all led to my current life.
AMS: What inspires you to create new designs?
David Klenk: I am inspired by the opportunity that the American Made show offers me. Meeting gallery owners and buyers, hearing their stories about the conversations they have with the customers, and thinking of new ways to interpret furniture design are the wonderful dividends of the financial stability that selling wholesale brings.
AMS: Tell us about the technical processes you employ in your work.
David Klenk: I use solid wood in all my products. That requires that the designs take into consideration the seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood. So traditional joinery like dovetails, mortise and tenon, along with frame and panel construction are necessary. This is time consuming work that the buyers appreciate.
AMS: How would you describe your artistic style?
David Klenk: My artistic style is based in classical architecture and traditional furniture design. I try to make in fresh and new by focusing on making the details more refined. Also, I try to focus on making the works more functional. That offers the buyers a better experience in both the purchase and the long term satisfaction with the work. It has to be wonderful when they buy it and it also has to get better with age. The polished varnish and the way the wood ages ensures that it gets better over time.
AMS: What type of customers tend to like your work?
David Klenk: There is a wide range of customers who buy my work. It appeals to both men and women, and to people over forty and under forty. In a general way my work appeals to people who have some connection with furniture, often antiques, or who have a relative who is a woodworker. If they have an understanding of the effort that goes into the work they are more likely to buy.
AMS: What is your most popular product line?
David Klenk: The most popular product line are the boxes and totes made from cherry wood. It seems that anything made from cherry is popular with most buyers.
AMS: Do you have any big announcements or plans in the near future?
David Klenk: My big announcement is that I now have three part time employees and have expanded the shop. We are looking forward to making more furniture and boxes.
Meet David Klenk at the 2016 American Made Show in Washington DC!
Company Name: David Klenk, Furniture
Studio Location: Gray, ME
Booth #: 521
See more creations in wood by current exhibitors on the American Made Show Pinterest page.