Peter Pierobon - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Canadian Quotes: On Canadian exhibitions, gardens as inspiration and working wood like butter.

Canadain Woodworker: Peter Pierobon

Peter Pierobon

Photos by Goran Basaricquotes

55 years old
Location & size of studio – 716 East Hastings St, Vancouver, BC, 5,400 sq. ft.
Education – Wendell Castle School, Scottsville, NY
How long have you been building furniture?
Since 1980.
What sort of furniture do you specialize in?
Sculptural, expressive, conceptual.
Tell us a couple of interesting things about your personal life.
I own a sailboat and spend lots of time sailing up and down the BC coast. I’m also an avid gardener.
If you were not a furniture maker what would you be?
Sculptor, landscape designer, architect, pilot, astronaut
Do you prefer hand tools or power tools?
Hand tools.
Solid wood or veneer?
Figured wood or straight grain?
Straight grain.
Inherited Vintage Stanley Sweetheart or fresh-out- of-the-box Veritas?
Flowing curves or geometric shapes?
I like and use them both.
From the Hills – “Mountain Table” was inspired by the rugged mountain scenery surrounding Vancouver, and is part of a series combining rock and wood. With its two leaves, this slate and black cherry table seats 12.

"My studio is located in the infamous downtown east side of Vancouver. It has two levels, upstairs is woodworking and downstairs metalworking. I have several tenants who are also woodworkers or sculptors."
"I enjoy all aspects of making, from sharpening the tools to designing new work, but my favourite activity must be working with super- sharp hand tools on a piece of solid wood. There is something very satisfying when the wood peels off like butter."
"I’m constantly looking at the world around me – plants, animals, the landscape, as well as art and sculpture. All of these sources influence my work. I do not look at a lot of other furniture."
"'Don’t be afraid to try something,' is what I would tell up-and-coming makers."
"Living on the West Coast has had a big influence on my designs. Nature is the best and most diverse designer out there, and I have developed several bodies of work inspired by things I have seen. One example would be the mountains around Vancouver, which inspired me to go to the local stone yard, buy a bunch of rocks and figure out how to incorporate them into my work. Another would be the high tide line that separates the water from the land; everything that ends up there gets tumbled around and softened by the forces of nature. I developed a series of pieces that tried to capture this phenomenon, supporting functional parts of a piece with a complex, sculptural composition of elements underneath."
From the Ocean – “Tidal Ebb” is an exploration of shapes and compositions that form naturally along Vancouver’s seashore. Wood is tumbled and softened into smooth forms while being tossed around by the waves. Pierobon attempted to capture the feeling of water, wood and continuous movement that occurs.
"My basic tool of design is sketching by hand. When I get an idea I like, I often make a scale model so I can resolve it three-dimensionally."
"If you don’t push yourself then you will not learn anything new. There is an aphorism out there that captures it perfectly for me – 'If you keep hitting the bull’s-eye, then you’re standing too close to the target.'"
"I never tire of any styles of furniture if they are good. Historical or modern, there have been a lot of amazing pieces of furniture made and I find them all inspirational. Conversely, there is a lot of work that I am tired of as soon as I see it."
"To increase the public’s awareness of studio furniture, Canada needs exhibitions with catalogues so the work is shown in public places and there is a record of what was shown."
"My favourite Canadian woodworkers would be Michael Fortune, Michael Hosaluk, Gord Peteran, Brent Comber, Arnt Arntzen, and Peter Fleming. Internationally, I would have to men- tion Wendell Castle, Randy Shull, Matthias Pliessnig, Tom Loeser, and Thom Hucker. In each case, whether they are great makers or not they have created a unique and sophisticated design vocabulary that is entirely their own. Technique can be learned with determination and patience, but it takes a lot more to invent your own language of form that is not just different, but resolved, sophisticated, and intelligent."
"Over the past few generations, there is now a market for the work I mentioned above; we no longer have to copy the past to be accepted."
"Being able to design and fabricate your own ideas is the most fulfilling part of my job. Very few architects can say that. Very few artists can say that."
"Having to ship it in crates across the border a long distance can be very frustrating."
"I have been interested in different things at different times, so really the latest piece is probably the most important to me. I just finished a spec piece that is a large [11’ wide] drinks cabinet. It’s very angular and tries to capture the energy of the landscape around Vancouver. This is a departure for me, but I like the modern feel it has and will probably build some more work like this."
"I want to keep making work that is exciting to build and moves the boundaries of the furniture design world a bit."

Urban Inspiration – “Coast Range” functions as a bar, and is also inspired by the local mountains. With a decidedly modern, urban flair, this walnut, stainless steel and aluminum cabinet reflects the coming together of nature and city – something that Vancouver does so well. Wine, liquor and glassware all have a specific home in this piece.


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