Peter Korn retires from the furnishings centre he founded

ROCKPORT — When he turned 62, Peter Korn informed the board at the Middle for Furniture Craftsmanship that he was retiring – when he turned 70.

Great to his term, Korn will phase away from directing the woodworking faculty that he started 28 a long time back when he celebrates his 70th birthday on Dec. 16. “I experienced it planned out for the reason that my objective from the beginning was to make a sustainable establishment that did not will need me. That was in 1993, the initial yr of the college. And I knew this was the last and possibly most hard stage in conditions of institutional enhancement, when the founding director measures absent,” he reported.

He entertains no second feelings.

“I will say, the closer it receives, the more attractive it looks. I have expended considerably far more time in my very own workshop the earlier two several years than I had been able to formerly,” he stated. “This is no for a longer time a 60-hour-a-week task. I’m not indicating it is a 40-hour-a-7 days work, but it is no longer a 60-hour-a-7 days occupation.”

Proof of his productivity can be noticed in the exhibition in the center’s Messler Gallery, “Straight from the Heart,” a farewell exhibition that Korn curated as an homage to mentors and friends. He incorporated a couple of of his very own items, among the them a pair of woven-cloth, beech and walnut chairs that he considers operates in progress, reflecting his return to the studio and his to start with adore of producing high-quality, useful furniture. But the exhibition is primarily about his friends and fellow woodworkers. Especially, it is a tribute to four mentors who led him into home furnishings-making and guided him: Tage Frid, James Krenov, Art Carpenter and Alan Peters, as perfectly as contemporaries whose operate he admires and whom he considers close friends.

A walnut and beech chair by Peter Korn, on perspective at the Heart for Home furnishings Craftsmanship in Rockport. Korn, the center’s founding director, is retiring in December. Courtesy of Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Korn commenced doing the job with his mentors in the 1980s, when he was starting up out. The dozen peers whose function he selected for the present have taught at the heart more than the a long time, and they appear from across the place and the globe: Brian Boggs (Asheville, North Carolina), Garrett Hack (Thetford Centre, Vermont), David Haig (New Zealand), Thomas Hucker (Jersey Metropolis, New Jersey), Beth Eire (St. Petersburg, Florida), Tom Kealy (U.K.), Silas Kopf (Northampton, Massachusetts), Aled Lewis (Wales), Michael Puryear (Shokan, New York), Chris Pye (U.K.), Tim Rousseau (Rockport) and David Upfill-Brown (Australia).

The exhibition, Korn reported, represents every thing the middle stands for, celebrating the spirit, mission and lineage of the faculty alone and the joy of suave, sensible woodworking. “The very best way to say it – each and every piece in the clearly show is thoroughly realized. Aesthetically and structurally, it is comprehensive in just by itself. There are no unfastened ends dangling – except for my parts,” he mentioned and laughed. “There are no unanswered issues. That exhibit embodies and likely communicates the mission of the college much better than every thing I have written in all these several years. It is the DNA of the faculty appropriate there.”

As he spoke from the porch of a campus making, the whirring and buzzing of saws, sanders and other machinery ended up continual in the track record, with college students working on initiatives in a close by store.

Building Home furniture AND Careers

Korn has built his mark. He began the woodworking college in the garage of the household in Rockland where by he still life, and it now occupies a 4-setting up campus of pink-sided structures in Rockport and has grow to be 1 of a several spots in this country exactly where pupils, both novices and innovative woodworkers, can immerse them selves in the encounter of designing and constructing purposeful and expressive furnishings to the optimum normal of craftsmanship. A lot of educational facilities educate people skills, but several areas rejoice them as getting main to a furnishings-maker’s inventive existence or stimulate makers to entirely categorical their particular aesthetics in their get the job done.

The Centre for Home furniture Craftsmanship instills all those abilities as standard premise, reported toolmaker Thomas Lie-Nielsen, founder of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks of Warren and a board member of the household furniture college.

“There are other professional-monitor colleges, but Peter is very unique in concentrating on furnishings specifically and on training younger people today in occupation-creating and coming up with household furniture,” he claimed, noting the school’s 12-7 days and 9-month plans made for individuals who are prepared to absolutely discover the likely of craft and job. “Those courses tend to bring in a youthful and a much more various scholar overall body, and that is wholesome for the field and healthier for the college,” he explained.

Peter Korn’s dictionary stand, made with walnut in 2005. Courtesy of Center for Home furniture Craftsmanship

Lie-Nielsen reported the committee entrusted to recruit Korn’s alternative is transferring forward. Acknowledging the challenging undertaking of replacing a lengthy-expression founding director – “Peter is a really tough act to adhere to with unique abilities” – Lie-Nielsen stated the lookup would “wind up when we discover the suitable man or woman. I really do not quite know when that is likely to be, but we are suitable in the center of it. The board has taken possession in generating this come about and making it transpire perfectly. I am guaranteed we will uncover a person genuinely superior.”

Thomas Moser, who carved his have popularity for operating in wooden but whose legend may well well be solid in granite, described Korn as uniquely individualistic and self-identified. His vision, expressed in the curriculum of his faculty that emphasizes high quality and individual choice, has affected a generation of makers and branded Maine as a desired destination for present-day craft home furniture, Moser explained, noting that he has hired quite a few of Korn’s graduates to build home furnishings.

“Peter is one of all those persons who slogged by it fairly much on his individual, and he has achieved anything extremely vital to Maine,” Moser claimed. “Because of Peter, Maine – together with possibly Oregon and Washington point out – Maine is recognised as a home furniture crafting heart. Folks glimpse to Maine for that, and Peter is responsible for some of that.”


Korn was raised in Philadelphia, and his mother and father – or his father, at the very least – needed him to turn into a health care provider or lawyer. He followed that route at initially, learning history at an Ivy League university. But a summer used doing work as a carpenter on Nantucket persuaded him he could make a living as a home furnishings maker – or at the very least motivated him to attempt. He moved very first to New York City, wherever he crafted and bought his home furnishings then to Anderson Ranch Arts Middle in Snowmass, Colorado, exactly where he taught and served immediate the craft university and then to Maine, wherever he opened the Center for Home furnishings Craftsmanship in 1993, inviting a 50 %-dozen students into his workshop in Rockland.

He rented room at the junction of routes 17 and 19 in West Rockport in 1994-95, then purchased land and began making the latest campus in 1996.  The red-sided properties with black trim are quietly visible from Route 90, reflecting Korn’s subtle and pervasive aesthetic.

Moser approved an invitation from Korn to educate a woodworking class at Anderson Ranch in Colorado and has stayed in make contact with over the several years. “He desired to train woodworking not in an artsy variety of way, but in a utilitarian craft form of way. When he arrived to Maine, I suggested to him that he locate in some spot like Lewiston-Auburn or an industrial region, but he desired to be by the ocean. So he commenced in his barn with a handful of pupils.”

Peter Korn, government director of the Centre for Home furniture Craftmanship in Rockport, is retiring at the conclude of the 12 months. The middle is an intercontinental woodworking university that teaches a variety of ranges of wooden craftmanship and style. Korn founded the middle in 1993 and moved it to its current home in 1996. Gregory A. Rec/Staff Photographe

That he has designed a world-class faculty speaks to Korn’s concentration and motivation to that eyesight, Moser said. “He has been extraordinary in his ability to commence with nothing and build what he now has, which is almost certainly a single of the two or a few most important institutions of its kind in the region.”

Korn’s wisest transfer, said Lie-Nielsen, was turning the school into a nonprofit entity following settling in Rockport, since it ensured the center’s existence past his management. “By building a nonprofit, he also developed an institution that will carry on long after he is no lengthier concerned, which is what we are finding into ideal now,” he reported.

Other than teaching classes, Korn wants no involvement with the administration of the university soon after his retirement, and has claimed he would not serve on the board.


Beyond educating learners to make home furniture, Korn instills the price of dwelling a happy life. He wrote about that quest in his book, “Why We Make Things and Why It Issues: The Schooling of a Craftsman,” released by Godine in 2013 and now in its fourth printing. He gained a Maine Literary Award for ideal memoir in 2014. In the guide, he wrote about the reward of conceiving and generating one thing new.

In an job interview, he explained the publication of the guide represented a pinnacle of his career. In retirement, he aspires to this sort of heights yet again.

“Writing that e-book is the most tough and gratifying detail I have carried out skillfully, maybe in any way, in my lifetime, even a lot more so than creating the school, in specific strategies,” he mentioned. Crafting an additional book is a goal – and he has a unique plan in brain – but he wonders if he could possibly “have explained every little thing I have to say that any person would want to listen to. I don’t know if there is heading to be one more composing task of equivalent magnitude to me individually.”

Peter Korn, govt director of the Heart for Home furnishings Craftmanship in Rockport, stands in the center’s Messler Gallery, exactly where the recent exhibition “Straight from the Heart” is on screen. The chairs on both aspect of Korn are his creations. At remaining is Do the job in Development V7, built with European beech, walnut and Danish cord and at suitable is Operate in Progress V8, manufactured with European beech, walnut and upholstery. Gregory A. Rec/Personnel Photographer

Korn has taught a fundamental woodworking class given that the school’s inception, and will proceed accomplishing so. It’s the same class he presented when he assembled the 1st 6 pupils in his barn 28 a long time ago. “The college was designed on that study course. I wrote the textbook for it. I must be training it. I have been training it because far more than for good. I really like teaching it. I did it on chemotherapy, and I’ll probably be equipped to do it when I am lifeless from the other side of the grave,” he mentioned.

A most cancers survivor – at a younger age and afterwards in existence – he has figured out to acquire nothing for granted and to cherish his time.

In retirement, Korn also will teach a chair-building class, which he referred to as “a great love. I have not taught a extra sophisticated class due to the fact we moved to this campus in 1996,” he claimed. “I have often felt, I should really depart that for people today who are in the studio far more than I am. But I am and will be back in the workshop more, so I can resume educating chairmaking.”

Michal Puryear, whose work Korn selected for “Straight from the Heart,” has acknowledged Korn because the early 1970s, when both lived in New York, right before Korn went to Colorado and prolonged before he dreamed of developing a college in Maine. Absolutely nothing that his pal has accomplished has surprised him, but he is stunned by Korn all the time. As proficient as he is as a maker and administrator, Korn’s sharpest abilities are his potential to have an understanding of folks, human mother nature and how to talk, Puryear said.

That is why the university succeeded, he claimed. Korn developed a straightforward and effective curriculum that emphasised simple capabilities and innovative expression, and recruited top-notch teachers and pupils with a feeling of journey. The neighborhood has grown close to those people ideals.

“He is familiar with how to engage individuals, and he would seem to study them quite properly,” Puryear claimed, “and he has managed to change what was in essence a store in his barn guiding his residence into a campus with 4 structures and a program that is the finest woodworking program in the region.”

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