Mike Moran Knows How to Make Furniture
Mike Moran… what can I say about him? I’ve known him for several years as the scruffy (ha; don’t hate me, Mike) friend-of-a-friend who made furniture.
|Meet Mike. Photo by Andy Dunaway.
But, I never realized how crazy talented Mike was until I took a trip to his shop located in downtown Charleston’s creative hub. And, his wonderful fiance, Celia, was just as passionate while so eloquently sharing their vision for making quality, unique and functional pieces for their clients.
|My trip to the Moran Woodworked Funiture shop.
Needless to say, I was blown away. As a child growing up, I frequented my grandfather’s metal shop and loved watching him work. Stepping into Mike’s shop took me back 20 years and I immediately felt at home and longed to know more about his process… and, I may have thought about getting my hands dirty as well. But, Mike was smart enough to keep me away from his tools.
His shop was the real deal. This is about as local and authentic as you can get; they do everything with the wood – cut, dry, build and finish – right in one place. Currently, they have more than a couple hundred pieces of wood from 10 different species from all over the United States with different stories. And, they do everything they can to maintain the integrity of the story. In fact, each piece produced comes with a backgrounder detailing its history.
Recently, the pair decided to produce a few limited edition lines. They built sets of pieces from a single tree or log and then commissioned local artists to have art prints go along with pieces in each collection. How unique is that?
|Story and art print accompany each limited edition piece.
There are so many pieces that I desperately want to share with you. For now, I’ll let these Moran Woodworked Furniture designs speak for themselves:
|This low chest of drawers is made with Butternut and Black Walnut.
|I love this Sapwood Console. It would look great in any entry.
Finally, here’s a little Q&A I did with Mike and Celia so you could get to know them better:
Do you have a favorite piece of furniture that you’ve made?
Every piece we get to build is special to us in a different way. But, there are a few pieces we’ve built over the years that Celia and I gravitate towards. For me it’s a coffee table made from a Live Oak branch with a glass top, for Celia it’s a bookmatched Cherry dining table that is in the Halsey Institute’s library.
|Talk about a statement piece for any den or living room.
|Take a look at the details on this Cherry dining table.
What is the most unique material you’ve incorporated into a piece? Where did you find it?
We run across lots of interesting materials, all with varied and significant stories of their own. Some of the really unique pieces vary from the limb from a childhood rope swing that is incorporated into a coffee table, to the original beams and framing of a family house that are milled into a dining table, or tree responsibly harvested from a clients land and turned into heirloom furniture for their home. We do have a bit of an original Tulip Poplar from Monticello alongside some beautiful slabs of Northern California Redwood, both surrounded by other domestic hard and soft woods from around our community and the country.
What inspires you most about furniture making?
The opportunity to work with wood is inspirational. There is something about the challenges and rewards of wood, seeing it’s transformation from tree to furniture, that really drives me. There is also a huge reward in creating anything in 3D, especially something you can use, something you can step back and understand and enjoy.
Mike has been known to team up with his colleague Peyton Avrett. I’ll introduce you to Peyton next week, but they make a dynamic duo. Take a look at my favorites from their collaborations:
|Wish I could grace my living room with this coffee table!
|Commissioned cabinet made by Peyton and Mike.
We’ve been working with Peyton for 3 or 4 years now. It’s really a great enjoyment for us as well as an ongoing education in a completely different material. We appreciate the possibilities that metal brings as much as he enjoys learning about woods attributes. I think this excitement is what fuels our work together. – Mike Moran
Thanks, Mike and Celia, for taking a few minutes to share with my readers!