Furniture-Maker Cory Allen
Celebrating Old World craftsmanship in a contemporary world, furniture maker Cory Allen crafts pieces that complement their owner.
Humble Beginnings Though he’s never had any formal training in furniture making, Cory Allen, owner of Deciduous Designs in Seattle, is no stranger to art and design. He studied at the prestigious California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland, where he focused his studies primarily in sculpture and ceramics. Soon after graduating, he began constructing wooden panels for painters, integrating various interlocking, curved and geometric shapes on which the artists could directly paint. As the panels became more complex, he developed concepts for crafting furniture. “It was a natural progression once I started working with wood. I’ve always thought furniture was unique in that it’s an intimate art—you see it, touch it, interact with it everyday. But ultimately, furniture making became a way to challenge myself artistically,” says Cory.
Behind the Scenes Because he strongly believes that furniture should reflect the character, values and aspirations of its owner, Cory has made creating custom pieces that are flexible and adaptable to his clients’ needs his primary focus. When working on originals, he works with interior designers, architects and directly with customers. He’s particularly fascinated with the idea of total architecture. “I love the harmony it represents—this Frank Lloyd Wright idea of extending the vision of the space into the furniture and creating a cohesive element,” Cory says. In addition to custom pieces, he also creates new lines at least twice a year that are available for customers to commission and buy.
Material Matters Cory uses wood from deciduous trees (hardwoods that lose their leaves seasonally) to craft his creations—it even influenced his firm’s namesake. “It’s the ideal wood to use for furniture because of its quality. There’s lots of variety, it’s sturdy and stable, and it’s less apt to move when the wood expands and contracts,” he says. Although he often uses walnut, Cory ultimately selects wood that will enhance the space the piece will reside in. “Often times, the circumstances influence the final result,” he says. Above all, he lets the natural figure of the wood become a core part of the design. In line with the Arts and Crafts movement, his main goal is to allow the wood to express itself as an artistic element.
Inspiration Point Cory names Sam Maloof and James Krenov, both masters of the craft, as key inspirations to him and numerous other furniture makers. “I believe in their philosophies of furniture design and wood working,” he says. Cory is also quick to mention Kris Cox and Howard Hersh, good friends who taught him about running a business and being an artist/craftsman. “They are more role models in that sense,” Cory says.
Buy It Occasional tables start at $800, benches and dining chairs start at $1200 and bed frames start at $3500. For more information, call 206-547-9901 or visit deciduousdesigns.com.
View some of Cory’s work by scrolling down and viewing the slideshow. Having trouble with the slideshow? View Cory Allen’s work here!