Kyubu Community: Steidle Woodworking
Posted on September 30 2017
Woodworking is a way of life for Vancouver-based designer James Steidle. Steidle Woodworking's roots run deep in its founder, shaped by a lifetime of being inspired by the forest, trees and beauty of nature. Fast forward to the present, Steidle Woodworking pieces are indeed an inspired reflection of this, with each piece designed and built to highlight and enhance the wood’s natural gifts of durability, uniqueness and beauty.
Amidst the aspen muse of this designer, KM sits down to talk wood, woodworking and a passion for nature that guides his path.
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Brand: Steidle Woodworking
Behind the Brand: James Steidle
KM: Tell us about your path to Steidle Woodworking.
JS: I was born in the forest town of Prince George, British Columbia and for as long as I can remember, wood has been a way of life: from the sawmill that I worked at as a kid, to the 18-foot riverboat I made at 17 and all the way to what I’m doing now, even during the ten-year hiatus from it to study and pursue urban planning and politics. I have always been an environmentalist; it is what influenced the policies I researched against urban sprawl, the lifestyle I live and is also what woodworking is all about for me.
Steidle Woodworking came to be when I felt the need to reconnect with making things and started woodworking again to solve a storage problem. That quickly led to beehives, furniture pieces and then cutting boards and custom work. What was first borne out of necessity became Steidle Woodworking. Since then, I have certainly experienced that success does not happen overnight and that it takes lots of perseverance to run my own business, but I just love designing and having things fit together and have them last a long time. It is important to live your life in away that achieves goals and pursue passions.
If I wasn’t passionate about Steidle Woodworking, I would be doing something else.
KM: Describe Steidle Woodworking pieces.
JS: Authentic pieces that reveal the beauty of nature to the user and that connect people to nature in a world that has too much plastic. They are one of a kind, unique and a thoughtfulness goes into each piece with special attention being given to jointwork, wood movements and its weaknesses and strengths. Every piece is a landscape, a horizon line, but otherwise can be inspired by anything from Japanese carpentry, modern art, cubism, the mid-century design of Danish furniture makers to the utilitarian nature of Shaker furniture. At the core, design is important but what Steidle Woodworking values most is staying true to the wood’s natural stability, strength and durability.
KM: What are you passionate about?
JS: Sailing. I like the water and spend a lot of time thinking about wood designs working through problems with how pieces should go together.
Also, aspen trees. This tree could save the planet: it supports magnitudes of species; it reflects a lot of solar energy and helps to reduce global warming and generally does a lot more with a lot less. My big game plan is buy land with lots of aspen and get a sustainable forest going and make wood products and furniture.
KM: What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
JS: I’d become a biologist and study aspen.
KM: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
JS: I play guitar [KM: cool]; I juggle [KM: cool, cool]; I’ve produced a couple of documentary films [KM: ooh! These we have to see!]
KM: What is your favourite artist or brand? Why?
JS: George Nakashima truly lets the wood express itself in his work. Each piece is based around the wood and pieces made from the same tree will look unique because it was used differently.
Custom orders and customization are possible for Steidle Woodworking products – contact Kyubu Market to inquire.
Photography by: Jen Chin