Erin: What are you curious about?
Christopher: Lately, I wonder what goes on in my 4 year-old daughter’s head, but I have always been interested in how things are made and how they work.
Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.
Christopher: I make heirloom quality traditionally modern furniture from reclaimed, repurposed, and sustainably harvested material.
My process begins with lots of coffee then biking to the shop. I look long and hard at material and then start to build. I do sit down and design things, but I think my best work comes out of building on the fly. I’ll have an idea in my head and start milling lumber. Something eventually comes together. I’ll refine those ideas, but that’s my process in its purest state.
Erin: How did you get started working with wood and how did you learn the trade?
Christopher: I started tinkering at an early age, taking things apart and putting them back together. I remember my dad had clad the walls of our family room in reclaimed barn wood and while he was working on it I started carving in a piece of the wood with a dull chisel. From that point on I really enjoyed making things, but lost sight of that path as I grew older. After graduating with a degree in architecture I realized that I wanted to build things with my own hands. I landed a few jobs at a few local shops and I eventually started Pernt to realize my own designs.
Erin: What is the first piece you ever made and what did it look like?
Christopher: My first real piece of furniture was a bi-level plywood table that pivoted on a piece of pvc pipe. I made it for a class I took at the School of Visual Arts. It was somewhat of a conceptual exercise in that it involved using exactly one whole sheet of plywood with no waste. It was puzzle-like but functional. I’ve since cut the table to pieces and used the plywood for other things.
Erin: What inspires you to make furniture?
Christopher: I’m inspired by period pieces and how I can modernize them. A fine piece of wood and other people’s work always inspire me. I’m moved by my heritage and the fact that cabinetmaking is a part of mine.
Erin: What is the one tool you cannot live without and why?
Christopher: My Sargent smooth plane. It was my great grandfather’s. Every time I use it I think of its history. After all these years, it still works wonderfully. It connects me to my heritage in a very concrete way.
Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and what would it look like?
Christopher: I’m not sure what it would look like, but I would love to work with my great grandfather who was a cabinetmaker in Pittsburgh. I never knew him, but many of his tools have been handed down to me. I’m sure he could teach me a thing or two.
Erin: What are you working on next?
Christopher: I’m building a chair out of a dismantled whiskey barrel.
Erin: What superpower would you have and why?
Christopher: I’d like most to have the power to get my daughter out of the house in a timely fashion.
Erin: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Christopher: I’m not sure if it was advice, but an architect, Joeb Moore, once told me that my quiet reserve will serve me well in life. As an introvert, those words have reassured me to feel comfortable in my own skin.
Erin: What is your dream project?
Christopher: My one true dream project is to keep doing this for as long as I am able, both physically and financially.