I’m in a strange sort of mood as I begin this blog. To tell you the truth, I’m a little ashamed of myself for not having written it quite some time ago. I have heard the name Thomas Moser many times as I have made my way through the woodworking world, but until just a few days ago I had never taken the time to find out what the shouting is all about. Well, sir! As it turns out Thos. Moser and Company is one of the most exciting furniture making companies I believe I have ever come across. For my tastes. And perhaps for yours as well.
What Thomas Moser has done is extraordinary on a number of levels. The first is the design of the furniture itself. No, no, that’s not it. The absolute first is having had the courage to begin the business at all. Moser was a tenured professor with a wife and four young sons in 1972 when he decided to turn his woodworking hobby into a business. In April 1973, with their first advertisement in Down East magazine, Tom and his wife Mary launched Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers. Flash forward almost forty years and we see a thriving business that employs 125 and is still growing, still designing and innovating, so now one clearly sees how inevitable it all was, right? Except that he surely had, as do we all, his many doubts and sleepless nights at the beginning of the endeavor. I certainly would have!
What makes the venture so successful, I think, is the very thing I found so exciting when I spent an hour or so poking around on his website. There is both simplicity and glory in the designs he has developed over the years.
Those who visit his site may be a bit taken aback at the prices he charges, but they are considerably less than what one would pay for the one-at-time pieces of, say, a Sam Maloof. On the other hand, IKEA surely has furniture for less. And that’s the other part of what makes Moser’s success all the more remarkable, that he was able to accomplish it in a world that has worked so hard to convince itself that the cheap stuff is every bit as good as the work of an incredible craftsman. It’s not. You get what you pay for. Always.
One of the things that has always inspired me is the Shaker movement. I liked what they were able to do with their furniture designs with a minimum of fuss and ornamentation. The one valid criticism some have made, though, is that there is a plainness about that furniture that can get a little tedious. Well, sir!
What Thomas Moser has created with his many lines has both the basic honesty of the Shaker furniture that is firmly rooted in well-designed, well-constructed furniture and combined it with some of the concepts found in the East, not unlike the journey Greene and Greene made some years before him. But again, to my own tastes at least, there is sometimes a stodginess about Greene and Greene furniture, whereas everything that comes from the sketch pad of Thomas Moser seems to have been developed into an absolutely stunning piece.
The Vita Dining Table and Chairs that tops this blog is certainly a case in point. It very much defines minimalist design with its top cantilevering over a vaulted base. And yet, there is still the pure form of the wood itself. When I first saw this design on their website, I was just stunned. There is so much about it that is completely original, combined with so much that is sturdy and true and firmly rooted in all the many woodworkers who went before. It’s the kind of furniture you can see yourself living with forevermore, which is something that is very much in the mind of Thomas Moser when they develop their designs. They know that the American black cherry trees that make up a good share of their output take some 75 to 125 years to mature. As they point out on their website, when cherry is harvested with care, it is very much a renewable resource, but given the many years it took Nature to produce that tree, we who felled it ought to be conscientious enough to make sure that whatever we make with that wood will last at least as long as the tree did.
I know this is more an accolade than a blog, but I am honestly that impressed with what has been done here. They do actually make this furniture in a factory, but they make it the old fashioned way, with integrity and consummate skill, and with a verve for design that is second to none. Having said so much myself, I will let Thomas Moser have the last word.
“It is through simplicity of form and attention to detail and proportion that we achieve a well-designed piece. A piece from which nothing can be taken and to which nothing can be added.”
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