Jul 16, 2016

Reviving Craftsmanship in America

written by Bruce Andrews
Kerry Joyce products, examples of fine craftsmanship
Chuck Comeau of Dessin Fournir advocates craftsmanship

Chuck Comeau of Dessin Fournir, as featured in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine. Image courtesy of the magazine and photographer Livia Corona.

When someone comes across my radar who doesn’t simply give lip-service to a desire to preserve old-world workmanship, I take note. Because we at Bruce Andrews Design are devoted to restoring and then preserving craftsmanship in America, which exists in such smaller qualities than it did during the furniture industry’s heyday, I have avidly followed the quest of Dessin Fournir’s founder Chuck Comeau to rescue struggling brands of exceptional value to the world of design.

 

A Dedication to Craftsmanship

Gerard furniture through Dessin Fournir

A vignette featuring Gerard products, one of Dessin Fournir’s luxury brands. Interior design by Michael Hampton.

 

The company he has created, which was founded in 1993, is a highly curated collection of to-the-trade luxury furniture, textiles, lighting, and accessories, which includes Dessin Fournir, Gerard, Kerry Joyce, Classic Cloth, Rose Cumming, Palmer Hargrave, Fritsch, Therien, Quatrain, Erika Brunson, and Kenneth Meyer of San Francisco—products available through our friends at The Martin Group in Boston. By infusing these brands with new life, he is responsible for preserving craftsmanship, a subject near and dear to my heart.

 

The Mindora sofa by Gerard, an example of exemplary craftsmanship

The Mindora sofa by Gerard, a Dessin Fournir Company.

 

An example of his dedication to quality is the fact he was central to the effort of saving the leading Belgian textile firm OJ Van Maele of Tielt by forming Garnell-Lake investment group last year. Joining him in his quest were industry heavyweights Randy Powers of J. Randall Powers Design, Shea Soucie of Soucie Horner, Suzanne Tucker and Tim Marks of Tucker & Marks, Suzanne Kasler of Suzanne Kasler, Winton Noah and Hal Ainsworth of Ainsworth Noah, Kerry Joyce of Kerry Joyce and Associates, and Doug Kinzley and George Massar of Kneedler Fauchère.

 

Kerry Joyce products, examples of fine craftsmanship

A Manhattan living room with Kerry Joyce products featured in it.

 

This comment he made about the effort should explain why I feel Chuck Comeau is a true visionary: “We have chosen to preserve an old-world legacy of craftsmanship elsewhere forgotten, and to secure the traditions and skills master craftsmen honed while working with the finest materials to create some of the most superlative textiles known to mankind.” What a loss it would have been to our trade had he not believed this strongly enough to take action!

 

Classic Cloth Vermeer fabrics.

The Vermeer Collection in the Classic Cloth line.

 

Note how in the video below he explains the fabric he is unfolding was imported from Scotland (the inspiration for our Collection Skye), and the fact that he intentionally brought his brand to Plainville, Kansas, because the town where he grew up was the one place he wanted to live. “I realized that what our company really needed moving forward were the people here, and by that I mean to provide the level of customer service you can’t get anywhere else,” he explains. Such a strong statement from an aesthete who also remarks, “I like great things and excellence, and this is what we strive for.”

 

 

Those words resonate tremendously with our call to action here at Bruce Andrews Design, as does his answers in an interview published in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens during which he explains how he turned a passion for collecting well-made heritage furniture into a business model: “More than 37 years ago, every fall, my wife and I would go to New England. Our first passion was Connecticut River Valley furniture, and we’d bring pieces back to Kansas. It was a never-ending inspiration bucket. I liked the way New England kept things—instead of just throwing them away; they kept them and fixed them. There’s history and provenance, the same things we try to preserve.”

 

Therien Edinburgh Commode

The Edinburgh Commode by Therien, a Dessin Fournir company.

 

He also explained to CC&G’s Sharon King Hoge why he’s a proponent of “Made in America”: “We take great pride that everything but the textiles are made in the U.S. And the quality of the goods we can produce versus what you see in other parts of the world is second to none. A lot of people feel if something is European, it’s better, when in fact things are better right here in the U.S. made by people in the U.S. That’s a quality of life we have that I think is important to preserve.”

 

Biedermeier style ebonized and carved giltwood Gueridon by Quatrain

Biedermeier style ebonized and carved giltwood Gueridon by Quatrain.

 

When the editor told him his desire to sustain craftsmanship in America sounded Norman Rockwellian, asking him if he was his favorite painter, Comeau had a surprise in store. “My current favorite is Basquiat,” he answered. “He was American. He painted on the streets of New York and developed this style and perspective that was unique to him and to America. It was amazing. I admire that he did that on his own, and at a very young age. He’s an American classic like Norman Rockwell, yet modern.”

 

Rose Cumming Garden of Allah on linen from Dessin Fornir

Rose Cumming Garden of Allah on linen.

 

I’d like to salute this big thinker for his avant-garde point of view and for the acquisition of OJ Van Maele of Tielt, mentioned above, which will now be allowed to continue to build on its 109-year-old legacy of luxury weaving. About this man’s insightfulness, I’d like to say, “Yet again, job well done!” For some nice eye-candy, take a look at the Dessin Fournir Companies’ Pinterest profile.

This post, Reviving Craftsmanship in America, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.