Years ago, Robert Erickson, a Nebraskan dentist in training met a poet in California who asked him to help build his house. This sounds like a fable, but it isn’t- it is the story of Erickson Woodworking’s inception in the seventies. Since, he and his wife, Liese opened their studio and raised their son, Tor, among their craftsmanship and sawdust. Today, after living in the Pacific Northwest and Africa, Tor is a partner at Erickson Woodworking with his parents, sharing the family tradition of craft, service, and community. The studio’s remarkably high-quality designs and passion have translated to a community of people who appreciate and respect the intricate detail that the Ericksons put into their work. Tor is emerging as one of woodworking’s top proteges, and with the legacy his parents have built for him, quite literally, his future, and the future of Erickson Woodworking, looks bright as ever. Join me in a Maker Monday meetup with Tor as he gives us a look into the woodshop, and his everyday life. The Sumi Settee is a walnut work of art made conformably- the carved out seats elevate the Sumi from the traditional.Crafted from hybrid wood harvested along the Sacramento River, the Sandhill Table aims to recreate the majesty of William Morris and Gustav Stickley’s arts and crafts movement.
Andrew – How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Tor – Working as a team in the shop lets us set strict starting and stopping times. At 5:15 PM every day we all set down what we are doing and clean up together and then at 5:30 we switch the lights off. This provides a nice bookend to the day, and lets us move on to other things.
Andrew – What modern design trend makes you cringe?
Tor – River Tables made by people whose name isn’t Greg Klassen. Guys, please, just stop.
Andrew – What’s your favorite time of day?
Tor – I don’t know if it’s my favorite but I frequently get a massive energy surge around 9 PM and use that time to get tons of stuff done.
Andrew – Dream project to take on?
Tor – The creation of a global economy not predicated on profit, but on the well-being of human beings and the environment.
Andrew – Vintage or new?
Tor – Doesn’t everyone just make these decisions based on price?
Andrew – Who do you want to write your obituary?
Tor – I’ve actually thought about this a lot and I alternate between wanting to write it myself and having it written by a team of investigative journalists.
Andrew – Design icon?
Tor – More than one. Peder Moos: the OG of the sculpted joint, and a legend when it comes to customer relations (on the ‘the artist always knows best’ side of things). Hans Wegner: the guy came up with fresh chair designs for like 80 years. We are all slackers by his standard. Judy Kensley McKie: I just want to hug and pet all of her designs. They are adorable.
Andrew – What’s your current TV obsession?
Tor – The Order on Netflix. The perfect blend of camp, horror and totally solid writing.
Andrew – The most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Tor – Evacuated a woman to safety after she was trampled by an elephant in an extremely remote national park.
Andrew – Favorite bad movie?
Tor – Battleship. Yes, the remake of the board game. Don’t ask me why, I just loved it.
Andrew – Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Tor – Read Karl Marx.
Andrew – Favorite city to recharge?
Tor – People go to cities to recharge?
Andrew – A skill you’re working on mastering?
Tor – RHINO modeling software.
Andrew – What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Tor – Everything will just be a variation on River Tables. River Table watches, River Table cars, River Table ice cream… Made using only raw materials found in California, the Columnar Coffee Table stands on serpentine stone legs that emerge from its surface.
About Tor Erickson | Tor Erickson grew up playing and working in his father’s woodshop in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. He always enjoyed the interplay between the engineering of a design and its aesthetics, and his work reflects this with an emphasis on exposed joinery and simple combinations of functional and dramatic materials.
He lives in Nevada City, California, and is a partner in Erickson Woodworking along with his father, Robert Erickson, and mother, Liese Greensfelder.
About Andrew Joseph | Andrew Joseph’s passion for design and rich journalistic history led to the launch of his boutique PR firm in 2012. Prior to enjoying the successes of Andrew Joseph PR, Andrew honed his editorial skills at Vanity Fair and Allure. This experience, as well as the strong network of contacts developed over the years in public relations, brings a valuable edge to his new role as contributing editor. Let the musing begin.
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