Matt Downer Designs has been creating handmade furniture and lighting in Rico, Colorado since 2004. Using wood, steel and/or stone, each piece is sculpted to capture the natural beauty of the materials in an elegant and functional form.
Although the shop is relatively new, I’ve been crafting things from hand all my life. From sketchy skateboard ramps and catapults as a kid to learning the art of woodturning as a young adult, I’ve always been drawn to the act of making something that works.
I grew up in Manhattan Beach, CA, graduated from CSU Chico with a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies. After graduating I promptly loaded my VW bus and took a long and wonderful season wandering the west – landing in Telluride, CO. Here I found Steeprock Joinery, a vibrant incarnation of old-world technique and a great work environment to hone skill and creativity. Additionally, working at Steeprock allowed me to set up my wood lathe in something other than the string of laughably small apartment closets into which I had previously been forced to squeeze.
Here, too I worked briefly with Christoph Neander whose museum quality work urged me to remember that the finer the detail, the closer the inspection and thus, the greater the appreciation of the piece.
Finely detailed, handcrafted work begs to be touched. One of the great pleasures of working with wood is the rich tactility of it. My hope is that every one of my clients will caress each piece I’ve made for them on a regular basis. By feeling the curves and sensing the flow of the grain, the piece stands apart from a world full of objects spat out by some machine on the other side of the planet. Painstakingly crafted by attentive eyes and practiced hands, every surface of every piece I make is worked so as to bring life back to the wood that once grew as a beautiful tree.
Forms tend toward the curved with exposed joinery, pegged through-tenons, dovetails etc. Cherry, Maple and Black Walnut constitute the lions share of my materials, but other woods with the potential to bring something to the piece are also eligible. I often incorporate metal, glass, stone and inlays of copper and silver.