“That’s a Bingo!”
One of the slickest companies I’ve written about is located in Austria. What I found myself liking about Team7 when I first wrote about them was everything pretty much. I’m a woodworker myself, although not, I hasten to add, one with the skills to put together about a bazillion lines of furniture and other wood products, found a company, hire a bunch of outrageously talented people, and put together an international company. But other than that, I’m exactly the same as them, right? However, it is fair to say that I have a much more heightened appreciation of woodworking then would have been the case had I never gone into it. So whenever I find an entity that is doing superb work with wood, I like to spread the word. And that brings us right back to Team7.
One of the things that really struck me when I first wrote about them a couple of years ago was that, although their products are made of solid wood, 100% of the hardwood in their many products come from certified sustainably-managed European forests that comply with the International Protection of Species Act. What that means is that when they say their company is “green,” it really does follow ecologically sound methods for utilizing wood products, as opposed to just paying lip service to the concept. In fact, they’re so dead set on doing it right that they will NOT use some of the more exotic woods for fear of encouraging improper harvesting of what is increasingly becoming an endangered resource.
Another thing they do is to make very certain that all of their creations are joined with non-toxic formaldehyde-free white glue. I personally have never been big on wood lamination for that very reason, because the usual way to bind thin strips of wood together is with formaldehyde-based glue. Sanding the finished product without a proper respirator is the type of thing done only by those with a death wish. And even if you do have that respirator, what happens to all of that formaldehyde-laced wood flour? It goes right into the atmosphere all of us are obliged to breathe. That’s why my blogging partner Joe Dusel and I use water-based glues, and I’m happy to say it’s why Team7 uses them too. They honestly care more about the environment then the almighty dollar.
But, as I said in that earlier blog, if ALL they do is work environmentally sound, they may soon find themselves doing no work at all. Cold as this sounds, in the end, if the product itself is stodgy, misshapen, haphazardly executed schlock, they won’t be making it very long. Well, as it turns out, I expect to see these people making furniture for quite some time to come.
Before I get into their latest, though, I did want to say a few words about the wonderful finish they apply to their furniture. Theirs is a factory that produces quite a few items every month, but everything they do is done to order, and despite their factory setting, all of the work is done by hand, up to and including the finish. I once described applying a hand-rubbed oil finish as a labor of love for the wood and the craft and all those who have gone before.
Wood can be-and often is-stained and dyed and varnished to an incredible gloss at times. It shouldn’t be. As I was thinking about this blog last night, I happened to hear one of those over-done versions of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie Number Three. This one was transcribed for guitar and orchestra and was incredibly lush, not at all what Satie actually wrote! I actually have a huge respect for the guitarist and wouldn’t have minded a simple guitar transcription of the piece, but no, we had this, whereas the original piece for solo piano has a wonderful lilting melancholy that is impossible to achieve in any other way. The piece actually wasn’t broken, but they fixed it anyway. I feel that way about wood at times. A simple oil finish brings to it a luster and a richness that cannot be achieved with any other product. But because it must be done by hand and occasionally reapplied by the end user (you simply wipe it on and off with a rag-couldn’t be easier), only an occasional company like Team7 will give their furniture a hand-rubbed oil finish.
Recently Team7 has come out with a line of coffee tables they’re calling Rock and Roll Tables. It’s something both unusual, and frankly, niche. These people have the same passion for their work as a guy like me who works out of a garage. I want everything I do to be the best damned job I know how to do. So do they! And lest I be accused of using “niche” incorrectly, I don’t mind pointing out that it’s a “specialized market,” an adjective properly applied to any entrepreneur specializing in a type of product or service. Bingo! Team7 is the kind of company that specializes in something they really have made a niche: superiority!
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