Honing His Craft
by Natalie Bencivenga
March 17, 2021
Keith Loughrey is the founder of Burghwood, a handcrafted heirloom furniture shop located in the North Hills. He chatted with me about his creative process, the importance of eco-friendly home goods, and what he hopes for the future of furniture design.
How did you get started in the world of furniture making?
I got started professionally making furniture by accident. While I always dabbled, a traumatic injury after 25 years as a carpenter and contractor encouraged me to whole-heartedly pursue the craft. My artistic side is passed down from my mom’s side. That said, I am self-taught in woodworking and fine furniture, with many years of related work honing the tools of the trade.
Why is sustainable furniture of particular importance to you?
I think my interest in sustainable furniture coordinates with my simplification of lifestyle and is a reaction against a lot of the disposable aspects of our society. The idea of one table lasting many lifetimes seems outdated, but I like it. I feel there’s a European mentality to that. Heirlooms. Starting with the idea that my works could last generations, it feels even nicer to “save the trees'' and build with rescued and reused hardwoods. I aim to make pretty things without leaving too much of a mark .... old-fashioned heirlooms, but in a novel way.
Share why people should consider purchasing from a local furniture designer and creator:
If you have an interest in the custom or unique, this is a great way to go. Keeping it local also helps in lessening the footprint of shipping large pieces all over the place. It can also build community pride in getting to connect with someone locally.
Why do you like working with clients to build specific pieces for their homes?
I love working in the shop and producing something special with client input. Every piece feels unique and new. I find it very satisfying to know the piece is a reflection of the client and will be handed down for generations. It’s also fun getting a glimpse of who or where my work is destined.
What is your creative process like?
My process is varied but always starts with some sort of conversation. We usually start with the function and size, but then may chat about any style desires or references from my own work or others. I may pitch ideas if I’ve got certain hardwoods in stock, too. After that initial conversation, I like to make simple pencil and graph paper sketches to show clients what I’m thinking. This also helps me figure out the proportions and practical construction needs. Once we’re on the same page and excited enough to continue, I can start realizing the design in wood.
Do the materials steer the design?
Most definitely. Variations in wood species, woodgrain, and mineral deposits all steer my designs. I like to design shapes, proportions, joinery, etc. around the uniquenesses in the wood. This makes each piece one-of-a-kind.
What would you like to see in the world of furniture design moving forward as we try to be more eco-conscious?
I would like to see us move back to simpler and more responsible times both in our interaction with nature and our consumption. Hopefully, the practical nature of furniture can outlast trends as the materials are hearty and long-lasting when made well.
To learn more about Keith and his incredible work, visit: www.burghwood.com
He is also on Instagram: @burghwood_co