Continuum of Craft
Owned and operated by Sten Havumaki, Oak & Laurel Workshop is located in a 19th century textile mill on the Saco River in the heart of Biddeford, Maine, about an hour and a half north of Boston.
Sten designs and builds custom furniture, millwork and architectural ornaments inspired by the rich and vast Classical design tradition and it's emphasis on beauty and skill. He often collaborates with architects, designers, fellow cabinet shops and directly with clients to meet the precise material, functional and aesthetic requirements. In addition, there is great value to the customer in working with a one-person shop to fully design and execute and deliver a project and the ability to adapt to any changes that may be necessary during the process.
He has great respect and enthusiasm for traditional craftsmanship and the collective trade knowledge distilled through the ages. He acquired his furniture making skills formally while attending the 2 year furniture program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston from 2007 to 2009. In this spirit, all designs and scale drawings are hand rendered and he carves in the traditional manner by hand with gouges and mallet. However, he is not a purist solely motivated by nostalgia; there simply is no substitute for the skilled human hand and eye combined with sharp tools when high quality furniture, woodwork or ornament is required; no other way to achieve the level of detail and surface quality created by the gouges and the deep undercutting necessary for the shadows that bring life and exuberance to the finished design.
The pieces Sten builds are designed to delight and endure. It is his hope and motivation that his work will be enjoyed and used by generations to come.
Hand Drawn, Hand Made.
Working by hand allows for the maximum control and precision that is crucial at certain phases of the design and fabrication of a piece. Trained hands have the ability to detect and adapt to the irregularity of the material and achieve the fineness of detail with sharp tools and a judicious eye. As a result, every wood chip represents an deliberate decision by Sten.
Words from the maker:
Function and beauty.
“My work is not only about function, it's also about beauty. Beauty is a major goal of classical architecture and it is what drives me in my work and design. It's humbling to be a small part of this tradition”
Design in abstract thoughts.
“When you design you're not thinking in words. You're thinking in shapes. Then you draw your ideas and try to make the best line or curve. When you build a piece you've drawn it's like seeing a dream come to life.”
A universal activity.
“There's a basic visceral pleasure about a sharp plane going over a piece of wood or a sharp chisel cutting...and manipulating this material. Working with hand tools is a universal activity and carving is an art form that goes back to almost the beginning of time.”
Watch the progress:
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