Friday, September 30, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Stewart Wurtz

The area's top interior designers turn to Stewart Wurtz ( to help make their visions come true. Working deep in the stacked-up woods of his Fremont workshop, Wurtz and crew turn maple, walnut, pear, cherry, mahogany, fir, wenge and whatnot into fine furnishings. Tomorrow's heirlooms today. He is also a member of artist cooperative Northwest Fine Woodworking, which has a Pioneer Square gallery at 101 S. Jackson St. Wurtz's pieces come at artist's prices. This guy is wild about wood.

Q: Gee, your furniture is kind of, um, curvy, sexy. Is that the point? A: The seduction of the wood doesn't reference any sexuality. It kind of draws you in. You want to touch it, feel it, find out more about it.

Q: What do we do to our wood furniture that just drives you crazy?

A: I'm a very accepting person. What I would like people to do is use it. You can experience it only partially if you only look at it. If it's a chair, sit in it, no matter which way you want to sit in it.

Q: What do you recommend to clean and refresh wood furniture?

A: It depends on the finish. Love it. Enjoy it. Oils are wonderful to feed the wood with. It's really a living material.

Q: If you could choose only one kind of wood to work with, what would that be? Why?

A: I would say maple because within maple there are so many varieties of maple. There's spalted big-leaf maple. It's a tree that has died and started to rot, so you get these beautiful black lines in the wood. Curly maple has a ribbon pattern. Quilted maple has a ropy character to it. Bird's-eye has little clusters, eyes that dance across the surface.

Q: What's your favorite escape?

A: I love to go hiking. I love to go kayaking. I love to get outside, where I can be away and let my thoughts just roam and dream.

Q: When you look at a tree, do you see a table and chairs, and possibly a three-drawer bureau?

A: I don't. I look at a tree and I see a beautiful form. And all I hope is that I can emulate that in my furniture.

Q: What's your favorite piece of furniture?

A: The one that I haven't yet made.

Q: What's the most expensive piece you've ever made? A: A dining-room set, table-chairs-buffet, for $40,000.

Q: Do you get hung up on the sustainability thing?

A: I'm very much in favor of it. I love to use the biocomposite and glass and metal along with the wood, and those can be recycled. I do use exotics and I do use precious woods, but I do use them sparingly.

Q: Baseball bats: wood or aluminum?

A: Wood, of course. It doesn't sound the same if you use aluminum.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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