When Jamie Herman sent in his application for the 2019 Alden Artisan Advancement award, he wasn’t expecting to win. The award is given yearly by the New Hampshire Furniture Masters in conjunction with its nonprofit, the American Furniture Masters Institute.
“I figured that the application process was a great design challenge,” the Vermont furniture maker said. “I wanted to design something somewhat unexpected, something that maybe the masters hadn’t seen before.”
“I thought that no matter what happened, the fact that I could get my work in front of the eyes of some of the best craftspeople in my field was worth it.”
Turns out, Jamie’s proposed design for a five-legged walnut side table not only earned him the award, but also the admiration of the jury. He’ll get a $1,000 scholarship to put toward the development and promotion of his piece. His table also will be professionally photographed, included in the Masters’ annual design book, and exhibited alongside the Furniture Masters’ work at their Main Event in the Fall of 2019.
Jon Brooks, a member of the Furniture Masters, said Jamie’s design is both new and innovative. “He is willing to stretch the concept of furniture while keeping it rooted in the functional limitations. His designs have a strong connection to the sculptural forms that I find very attractive. His choice of woods complements the design he has created, his joinery skills seem well executed, and his work gives the appearance of a professional aptitude.”
“Jamie’s built pieces are innovative and contemporary, breaking from traditional furniture models,” said jury member Bill Stelling, owner of Kelly Stelling Contemporary in Manchester N.H.
Jury member and furniture maker Tim Coleman called Jamie’s application “the complete package. Seeing Jamie’s other work gives me confidence that technically, he’s up to the job.”
And technically, the table does sound like a challenge. “My proposed design is a five-legged side table in walnut with white inlays,” Jamie said. “The legs of the tables will be angled in a spiraling pattern down and away from the top, which will necessitate some challenging joinery. The aprons and stretchers will be hand-shaped so that they twist from one leg to the next. The top will be pentagonal, with a book-matched veneer pattern outlined with white inlay.”
Jamie, who works wood in Cambridge, Vt., is a recent graduate of the Immersion Program at the Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax. Since graduation, he’s been launching his furniture business with the goal of becoming a studio furniture maker. He’s excited about the opportunities the next year will bring.
“I think the Alden Artisan award will be a huge opportunity for me. I’m excited to meet and mingle with the masters, and I’ll undoubtedly try to pry as much information as I possibly can from them. As I’m just starting out my career as a furniture maker, I also think the exposure I’ll get from this award will be invaluable in getting my business off the ground. Most of all, I think the opportunity to exhibit with the masters next year will be a fantastic experience, and will validate all the long hours I’ve put in at the shop over the past two years trying to push myself to the next level.”
See more of Jamie Herman’s work below or visit his website, jhstudiofurniture.com or his Instagram @jhstudiofurniture.