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The Processes, Techniques, & Historical Context of Furniture and Craft.

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Discover

A Practice Steeped in New England History.

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Changing Technologies & Topics in Design

Woodworking & Furniture Design

Discover a practice steeped in New England history— transforming Maine-grown timber and other raw materials into functional artwork.

Our accomplished faculty will push you to explore different approaches while imparting design principles ranging from basic to complex. You will learn all about the expressive nature of three-dimensional form and how to take an idea full circle from conception to completion. At MECA, we encourage you to investigate a wide range of materials and processes, including wood in all forms and species, as well as casting in plastics, aluminum, bronze, and steel, fabrication and welding, upholstery, and various fibers. The majority of materials and products used in MECA’s Woodworking and Furniture Design Program promote environmental sustainability. Core coursework makes you responsible for obtaining and preparing your lumber or raw materials before getting creative with steaming, bending, planing, and joinery, using both hand tools and specialized machinery. Our curriculum focuses on a balance between traditional and contemporary approaches. The knowledge and connections you make here will prepare you for a career in wood design and craftsmanship as part of the next generation of talented New England-trained artists.

Spotlight

  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Peter Dore ’17

    The craft field affords technique and knowledge of craft, while the fine art aspect offers freedom.

    Peter Dore grew up in Westbrook, Maine.  A stint at a college in Syracuse didn’t feel right and he began travelling back and forth between Lake Tahoe, where he helped operate snow‐making equipment in the winter, and Maine, in the summer.  While he was studying architecture at a community college, one of his instructors recommended . . .Read More

  • Federal Street Folly

    This is a fantastic investment in our creative economy

    When The Press Hotel opened in downtown Portland, Maine, they approached MECA to purchase artwork and commission custom projects. One commission involved hiring four Woodworking & Furniture Design students (Peter Dore, Melinda Thomas, Jenna Castillo, and Michelle Cody) to collaborate with faculty member Matt Hutton to create outdoor . . .Read More

  • Hannah Merchant '13

    Growing and making food and documenting the act with photography was a powerful experience.

    The “Grow Cart” was created by Hannah Merchant ’13, who majored in Woodworking and Furniture Design with a Minor in Public Engagement. This mobile farm stand was designed in partnership with Cultivating Community for her Public Engagement Capstone project. The Grow Cart is used to deliver local organic produce and . . .Read More

  • Ted Lott ’06

    Craft practices are at once defined and restrained by their connections to tradition.

    Ted’s sculptures combine craft and woodworking skills with an historical approach to create a signature body of work that is chimerical yet consistent.  A found chair, for example, may embrace a small house frame, complete with wrap‐ around porch.  Or a 62‐inch floor lamp might form the base of a spiral staircase that winds to . . .Read More

  • Matt Hutton

    I enjoy working with compositions through form and function, which can lead to more dynamic results.

    In an interview by local designer Angela Adams, conducted for her blog, Associate Professor of Woodworking & Furniture Design Matt Hutton describes himself as “absolutely a woodworker. I enjoy the process of thinking steps ahead of myself and working on a planned project. Working intuitively is not something that I do well. I enjoy . . .Read More

  • Former Faculty Joel Eckhaus

    Joel Eckhaus is a luthier and former Assistant Professor of Woodworking & Furniture at MECA. Joel began . . .

    Joel Eckhaus is a luthier and former Assistant Professor of Woodworking & Furniture at MECA. Joel began building instruments in 1973 and is the founder of Earnest Instruments in South Portland. Read More

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Outcomes

  • Formal

    Students have grounding in formal design language and visual thinking skills as taught in the Foundation years and reinforced in the major. Students understand basic design principles with a particular focus on the expressive nature of three-dimensional form.

  • Technical

    Our students possess confidence in using machine and hand tools that range from a table saw, band saw, mortise, lathe, drill press, planer, jointer, router, and sanders. Students have a range of manual and machine skills in furniture making and competency in a broad range of techniques and processes. Students investigate a wide range of materials; wood in all forms and species, plastics, aluminum, bronze and steel casting, fabrication and welding, upholstery, and various fibers. Students are adept at full-scale drawing and model-making techniques.

  • Conceptual

    Students understand the history and theory of furniture design, are aware of contemporary issues, and have a command of relevant critical language. Students develop a personal voice manifested in a self-directed body of work and arrived at through a conscious design development process. Students develop critical skills relevant to their work and the work of their peers.

  • Professional

    Students are familiar with professional organizations, associations and periodicals. They can identify models, case studies, ethics, and standards within their own work as well as that of their peers. Students write an artist statement, resume, and thesis statement, and learn to document and photograph their work. Students gain experience in presenting and exhibiting their own work in a professional setting. Seniors gain experience developing an exhibition of current student work within the major.

FAQs

  • What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Woodworking & Furniture Design?

    Our students have become employed in a range of disciplines such as lead designers in high-end cabinetry firms and private jet interiors based in NYC and Portland, ME. They have also continued their education at the graduate level in some of the most respected universities in this country within the design field. In addition, students have taken up residency at various artist-in-residence programs across the country and ultimately established their own studio practices and even become university faculty within this discipline.

  • How do you prepare your students for the real world?

    We think of their entire experience as real world preparation. Our students learn a significant skill set that can be applied to many methods of construction and problem solving. Their experiences in the classroom such as client-based presentations (model making, budgeting and prototyping), maintaining a heightened level of craft and consistently upholding a rigorous work ethic help prepare them to excel in many exciting endeavors after their tenure at MECA.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Woodworking & Furniture Design? 

    Completed Foundations year, Introduction to Woodworking & Furniture Design and one of many woodworking elective courses such as Curviture (designing and making with bent wood), Design: A Sustainable Approach or Multiplicity (designing for small production)

  • What unique skills do your students get? 

    Our students obtain a particular skill set that allows them to comfortably and safely operate in a studio that involves heavy machinery and construct on a human scale. The independency that they have in the studio provides them with the confidence to successfully maintain a fully functioning wood studio. 

  • Will I able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Woodworking & Furniture Design major? 

    Yes. We have students utilize other materials that they are experiencing at MECA such as clay, metal and digital technologies within their work. In fact, it's a requirement for all students within our introduction course to include a secondary material other than wood into their project in order to help understand the properties of wood movement and to problem solve through connections. 

  • What are some classes offered in your department? 

    Introduction through Advanced Woodworking & Furniture Design. Sustainable design approaches. Wood bending. Designing for small production (working in multiples). Site specific/client based designing & making. Designing and making with the CNC router.

  • What are the faculty like? 

    Faculty are diverse, hard working, contemporary practicing artists that bring a calm yet rigorous approach to teaching. The faculty are young but offer a broad resume in teaching and art making. 

  • What are your facilities like? 

    MECA offers a state-of-the-art wood studio that includes precision Italian machinery, CNC routers and every hand-tool needed for working in wood. We provide Lie Nielsen hand planes, Festool hand tools are equipped with two Saw Stop table saws. 

  • What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past? 

    Students consistently intern for private art and woodworking studios, public art projects and large companies within the industry such as Mark Richey Woodworking. 

  • How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?

    6 juniors & 6 seniors

Program

Preparation (1st and 2nd Year)
Introduction to Woodworking (WF 101) and (1) WF Studio Elective

Junior Year (3rd Year)
Woodworking & Furniture Major Studio (WF 321-WF 322), Intro to the Discipline (WF 351), Junior Seminar (SEM 352-3-4), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Woodworking & Furniture Major Studio (WF 421-WF 422), Senior Synthesis (SEM 451-SEM 452), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Workspace & Tools
  • Two Sawstop table saws
  • Powermatic panel saw and Shopbot CNC router
  • Two Mini Max bandsaws
  • Delta bandsaw
  • SCMI planer
  • SCMI thickness sander
  • Steam bending station
  • Festool systems
  • High-quality wooden workbenches
  • 16” Mini Max jointer
  • 8” Delta jointer
  • Router table
  • Drill press
  • Laguna horizontal mortiser
  • Delta disc sanders
  • Wide range of highest quality traditional tools
  • 24/7 access to individual major’s studio
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  • I often remind my students that the studio is the safest place to fail, and it is through our failures that we realize the possibility of creating truly great work. Problem-solving within the studio environment is a physical activity; thus I encourage my students to keep making and keep trying in pursuit of successful works of art.

    Nikki Farrand Rayburn '11  2011  //  Assistant Professor in WW&FD, Exhibitions Coordinator
  • We are extremely diverse… some of us are working very traditionally, and others are making sculptures. Just because we are the Woodworking Department doesn’t mean we are only using wood as our medium.

    Rangeley Morton  2014  //  Woodworking & Furniture Design  //  Chelmsford, MA

What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

55% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

45% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.

63

Work as professional artists

23

Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors

16

Founded a business

23

Work as craft artists

38

Work as fine artists

29

Work as art teachers

17

Pursued an MFA after graduation

47

Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers

91

Make art in their personal time

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