meet kelly parker

Hi, my name is Kelly Parker. I live in Parkville, Missouri, which is just right outside Kansas City. Right now, I have a basement workshop, so essentially 1200 square feet in a basement that never planned on being a workshop and was converted to a workshop when I made the random decision to become a furniture maker.

How do you get wood in and out of your workshop?
Through my hobbit door. I have a 5-foot tall door that opens on both sides, and so wood comes in my hobbit door, across my workbench, and into my shop. It’s not the best set up, but that’s what I’ve got

Why use wood ?
Wood is such a warm material, and I love everything about it. I love the way that it feels when I sand it. I love the way that it smells when I cut it. I love the sound that it makes when the little offcuts fall to the floor. It’s just a wonderful, raw material that I am just very drawn to. I use a lot of domestic hardwoods. Typically, people give me a tree, and I would find intriguing the story behind that tree. So all of my furniture has a story attached to it. I’ve never had to buy lumber. People give me trees. I’ve had to pay for getting those trees to be milled, so I’m typically getting trees that have to come down off the property for some particular reason.

So we’re not going out and harvesting new trees. It’s because the tree has been damaged or a house is expanding, and that’s where the new foundation goes. So typically, I’m getting a tree that way. I’ll drop the tree, then call a tow truck to take that tree to a sawyer. It’ll stay in my sawyer’s lot for a couple of months. Next, my sawyer will cut it the way that I want it to be cut whatever thicknesses. Then I bring it home, and it is placed in my drying shed for a year to two years, depending on the thickness of the slabs, before I can actually start processing it. That gives me control of the tree from the moment it’s cut to the moment I start using it. And because I do a lot of steam bending, I need a lot of air-dried lumber rather than kiln dried.

One of my strengths is design. I feel like my designs are really resolved but not over the top. It’s funny; ideas for me come from anywhere. The chair (Penelope Cruz chair) came from fashion. Ever since I’ve become a furniture maker, I see shape and form everywhere. I see the world in a way I never used to. I was driving through downtown Toronto, and I was looking at two high-rises and the roofs slanted inward, and there were balconies in between. I didn’t see high rises; I saw the shape between which was a wood screw, the balconies where the threads of the wood screw and the tilting roofs was the top, and I never used to see the world like that.

You know when you’ve knocked it out of the park when the curves are perfect, the balance is perfect, not necessarily the symmetry, but the piece is balanced. And every time I look at it, I say, “Yeah, I love it.” For me, it’s a pleasure to go back into the client’s house and see a piece, and if a piece still resonates with me and makes me smile, then I know that I did it, I know that I did it well.