Brian's Origin Stories

Every Piece of Furniture has a Purpose and a Story

Every Piece of Furniture has a Purpose and a Story

I think being a woodworking has been one of the most rewarding jobs I have had. Back in my corporate sales job, at the end of the day, there was not much to look back on, a stack of paper on which I wrote my sales orders, at least on a good day. No matter how much I sold, it was never enough for my bosses, who always wanted more. It became apparent to me that being a salesman is a thankless job.

Now that I am a furniture maker, at the end of the day, I can step back and see the progress I have made and see a piece of furniture come to life. It is much more rewarding, especially when you consider every project has a story behind it and a purpose for being created.

This dresser was my first commission for a customer planning to move to Scotland. She had visited there several times and observed most bedrooms in Scottish homes were smaller than those here in America. When it came time to build her dresser, she had one main requirement: that it not be larger than 4ft wide so it would fit nicely in her new Scottish home.

My next commission was for a hall table. This customer was a local artist, and her son had followed in her footsteps by going to art school. During his time, he created some beautiful sculptures, which he gave to his mother. The hall table was designed and sized perfectly to sit at the end of her entry hall to display the artwork from her son. This was the first splayed-legged table I built with exposed joinery.

Those are just some examples from customers I work with and the story behind the furniture I make for them. They allow me to build a piece that adds to their story and gives my work purpose and meaning. This became even more apparent to me when I was asked to build a custom box with a bear inlaid on it for a special girl who passed away from epilepsy. The reason for the inlay of a bear on the box was that her nickname was Clair Bear. All her friends and family called her Clair Bear, and her nickname caught on with the doctors and nurses who cared for her during her frequent visits to the hospital. To honor that memory, her parents asked that I somehow incorporate a bear into the box.

Custom Furniture Design and Fabrication by Brian Benham

I was honored to build the box and become part of Clair’s life story. Every life has a purpose, and I know Clair had many. I can’t help but think that one of her purposes was to teach me how to do an inlay; up to that point, I didn’t think I had the skill to execute such a detailed inlay. However, I was determined to create the best inlay I could. Without the inspiration from Clair Bear, it would have been years before I attempted such an inlay.

Being a furniture maker and having the opportunity to create special pieces that have purpose and meaning for my clients is truly an honor. I am blessed to be able to work with my hands, creating beautiful pieces of furniture.


I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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