Arts & Crafts

Cabinetmakers and cabinetmaking are firmly established as being quintessentially craftsmen/craftspeople. 

Craft can be distilled into being described as the creative process of making something useful. As opposed to art which is, in essence, the creative process of making something use-less. 

Art and craft are distinctive and separate endeavours that have, or maybe should have, equal relevance or importance in our lives. 

William Morris nailed it more eloquently than I ever could when he said: 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

He perfectly captured the distinction between craft and, shall we say, good art. More than that, he gives both equal weighting.

I’ve a poster with that quote in our house. Had it for years, certainly since before I was at Rowden. I understood and got comfortable with the separation of art and craft. It helped me get comfortable with the idea that, while I might never be an artist, I could be a crafty.

The Fundamentals

And then David Savage went and spoiled that notion by showing, over the course of the year at Rowden, just how fundamental art is to the true craftsman. By diligently teasing out the reluctant artist in me, and all the other students, he opened up a whole new way of thinking about design. 

Even more importantly, he opened up a whole new way of looking. I mean really looking! 

I thought that, given I’d been doing it my my whole life, I’d got pretty good at looking at stuff. What Rowden does in its art classes, with tutors Ed Wild and Lowri Roberts, is get the students to really take in the world. To open their eyes and see nature and form in all its glory, and to translate that into a piece of art.

The magic comes when the cabinetmaker starts to design their own pieces, and how critical and aware they become of proportion, balance, ratios, curves and shape.

Arts and crafts. Art in craft. Done well there is no distinction. They come together in one beautiful useful piece, and the newly enlightened maker wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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