The appeal of hand-wrought furniture and accessories

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Mark Nodeen, a gifted young furniture designer/fabricator has successfully tapped into a part of the consumer furniture market that prizes furniture that is hand wrought and made from recycled materials. This desire for organic, one-of-a-kind handmade furniture is surely part of the wider Green movement, but it’s also a legitimate design aesthetic with a long history. Today, the hand-wrought furniture trend derives from the Japanese Wabi Sabi attitude that celebrates the perfect imperfect – things made by the human hand that include material flaws (i.e. personality) and is the opposite of objects that represent machine-made precision and a mass market assembly line pedigree.

Mark’s materials come from dilapidated old barns and houses being taken down. Docks and wharfs, old doors and windows, worn floor boards and ceiling beams, shutters and such are all items that Mark can envision as stylish tables, consoles, headboards, case goods, and frames for chalk boards.

In the beginning of his career, the 36-year-old designer personally searched salvage yards, junk stores and construction sites. Now, with demand growing for his unique furniture, he employs people to search for him and he has trusted sources who tell him when a quantity of old wood, metal, glass and such is ready for a new life at Mark’s design studio in Florida. Mark’s company name is 390 Design.

Mark’s clients are homeowners and collectors, restaurants, hotels and most recently Whole Foods Market. Some clients bring pieces of wood to him and ask him to transform that wood into a custom piece of furniture. Other clients explain to him the design scheme they envision and Mark does both the design and fabrication. The most popular item requested is a family kitchen or dining room table.

Words such as organic, real, durable and sustainable are often applied to Mark’s work. What he says is this: “I think I’m post-modern shabby. Think if Martha Stewart joined a punk band,” says the designer. For people who believe in an eco-friendly world where the words rescue, restore recycle, reuse and repurpose are put into action, Mark Nodeen is their designer.

Marsha Fottler regularly contributes to local, regional and national publications with articles on residential, commercial and restaurant design as well as food.