location: Santa Monica, CA
specialty: desks and tables made from slabs of walnut
shop tunes: a fine-tuned Little Dragon Pandora station.
quote: “wood is unique in the fact that you don’t tell wood what you can make it into, it tells you. metal can be controlled, but each slab of wood has its own unique story”
It was a Friday afternoon as I made my way over to Taylor Donsker’s Santa Monica shop. I pulled off the main road into a busy alleyway full of garage workshops. Just a bit further down… Unit 9. Perfect, I’ve made it. Finally out of the Friday afternoon LA traffic. After quick introductions, I tell Taylor to just go ahead and do his thing while I unpack. He got to work as I loaded film into my cameras and began to shoot the details of his shop. I asked how he fell into furniture design and he explained his background in architecture and the lamp he built himself as a student at USC. “It all kind of went from there. I think people are fed up with the lack of originality places like IKEA offer in their products and how few products are made in the US.” He told me about Japanese woodworking and showed me his “wood Bible”, a book full of images detailing the amazing craftsmanship of Japanese architecture. The beautifully cut pieces of wood that went together like puzzle pieces that, without nails or screws, have managed to support the amazing ancient structures all across Japan for centuries. As we were beginning to wrap up the session, Taylor and his assistant Bradley began oiling the slab they had been working on for a desk. The afternoon sun had sank just low enough to spill a little bit of direct light into the shop–just enough to light up half of the freshly oiled slab. The sunlit slab transformed from wood into an intricate piece of art. “If you stare at those patterns long enough, you can definitely get lost in them.”