meet the makers | Sep 28, 2023 |
Why materials reign supreme for this Maine-based woodworker

Why materials reign supreme for this Maine-based woodworker
Heide Martin Christina Wnek

Heide Martin is driven by materiality. Above all else, the Rockland, Maine–based maker wants to share her affinity for raw materials, particularly hardwoods, with as large an audience as possible. “My love [for natural materials] not only motivates and inspires me; it is the underlying principle of my practice, and the organizing structure of my creative process,” she tells Business of Home.

After earning an advanced degree in landscape architecture from the University of Washington, Martin discovered furniture design in a roundabout way. “I had the chance to design some pieces of outdoor furniture for landscape design projects, and I fell in love,” she says. “Then, I met my now-husband [Patrick Coughlin], who is a professional carpenter, and realized that it was possible to make a living with your hands.”

In 2015, the pair moved to Rockport, where Martin enrolled in a nine-month intensive woodworking course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. After graduating, she spent the following year honing her skills while working for the school. “We officially launched our studio in 2017, offering the designs I developed in school as our first collection,” says Martin. “This included some pieces that are still currently our bestsellers: the Simple stool, the Woven bench and the Rectangle tray.”

Why materials reign supreme for this Maine-based woodworker
Martin at work on a bespoke weave designHeide Martin Design Studio

Martin describes her design process as “one of constant reduction and subtraction”—wherein she allows the materials to guide the forms and, ultimately, do the talking. “I aim to create designs that are distilled and legible. I do my best to highlight the qualities of the materials I am working with while also exposing how a piece is crafted.”

Using a mix of hand-held and power tools, Martin and Coughlin hand-craft each of their simple yet chic designs, using a medley of native hardwoods including oak, ash, walnut, maple and cherry. “Every piece of wood is unique,” says Martin. “So, decisions like how you cut the wood, how you orient it and how you join it to another piece have an impact on the overall visual harmony and structural integrity of the final design.”

The studio also employs an array of old-school artisanal weaves in many of their designs, ranging from rush and cord woven seats to caning. “We do all of our weaving in-house by hand,” says Martin. “I taught myself all the seat-weaving techniques we use in our workshop, and many are based on historical methods and are highly specialized.”

Why materials reign supreme for this Maine-based woodworker
The Breakfast table and Gather chair by Heide Martin Design StudioDavid Heald

Along with Arc, a trestle-style dining table with solid wood joinery and an arched base, the brand’s recent introductions include the gently curved Gather chair, which boasts steam-bent legs and a woven checkerboard seat. “The former was designed to complement the latter,” she says. “I wanted to design a dining set that would inspire people to gather, linger and enjoy each other’s company.”

On October 6, Martin will unveil a fresh pair of designs at Field + Supply in Kingston, New York, including a never-before-seen frame-and-panel credenza with woven splint doors and Juliette, an upholstered daybed inspired by historic recamier sofas. “Field + Supply has been instrumental in helping us grow our business,” she says. “In fact, in the first few years, nearly all of our yearly sales and revenue came through the fair, either directly or indirectly. The event draws a lot of members of the trades—interior designers, architects, gallerists, shop owners and more—and this is part of why our business has been so successful.”

If you want to learn more about Heide Martin, visit her website or Instagram.

Homepage image: The Juliette daybed by Heide Martin Design Studio | Hessler Creative

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