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Gonic furniture maker gains international kudos for cabinet design

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Gonic furniture maker Owain Harris and his award winning 'Escape Velocity' bureau. (Courtesy photo).

CONCORD - Gonic furniture maker Owain Harris has received the first ever Maker/Designer Pinnacle Award from the prestigious International Society of Furniture Designers for his innovative cabinet, "Escape Velocity." Harris, a self-taught woodworker who operates a one-man studio in Gonic, builds custom furniture and cabinetry. His work has garnered multiple awards and been featured in many publications.

Design judges noted that, "Escape Velocity" is "an imaginative and technical cabinet design with just a touch of whimsy...Truly an original work of art by a true craftsman...not a me too...this is quality furniture...worth winning the first Maker/Designer Pinnacle Award." In making the award, the judges commented on the excellent material choices, such as the bees' wing pattern on the fumed eucalyptus, the well-executed marquetry on the top and front, and the finish that brings out the natural beauty of the wood grain. "I describe my work as having 'approachable elegance,'" says Harris. "Furniture that is serious, but that doesn't take itself too seriously. 'Escape Velocity' is about tension and liberation...about overcoming the forces that hold us back in order to fly free. A sense of drama and pressure is created by the formality of the case and the curvature of the doors, ultimately forcing the inlay through the top of the cabinet, allowing it to spin off in all directions. It is a firework display in wood."

The award, presented on Oct 15 during the 23rd annual Pinnacle Awards Competition at High Point University's Congdon School of Health Sciences, drew interest from designers across the country in 18 categories. "We saw more student entries than ever before this year, and we are also pleased to see intense competition in our newest category, Maker/Designer, created to recognize the builders/makers who create one-of-a-kind pieces for sale in galleries and stores, as well as client-specific products," says John Conrad, ISFD executive director. Harris is a member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association, a group of professional furniture makers committed to preserving the centuries-long tradition of fine furniture making. He shares his passion for furniture making and design through writing, and as an instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. See more of Harris' furniture designs at www.harriscabinetmaker.com.

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