Introduction and Interview by K. Cecchini
After my husband and I purchased our condo, we were hard pressed to find affordable furniture made of, as silly as it may sound, real solid wood. Why? Simply because we wanted pieces that we would not need to replace in a dozen years or so (or less).
After unsuccessfully scouring used venues for furniture to resurface and almost giving in to buying an engineered board living room set, I finally found Campion Table Company’s Etsy store and we have since populated our space with 7 pieces of furniture that Campion has designed or adapted to fit our needs.
Kevin Treanor -now Campion’s sole owner-is local, responsive, honest and, most importantly, a quality craftsman; we are truly pleased with our tables, nightstands and entryway bench. As we have been extremely satisfied with his work, I wanted to highlight Kevin’s work with an interview post.
Tonight at Dawn (TaD): How did you develop your interest and skills in woodworking?
Kevin: My father is a carpenter by trade so it is something that I have been around for as long as I can remember. My father’s workshop is located at my childhood home and I was always rooting around his shop as a kid. Those early experiences were definitely the leading factor for my interest today.
Growing up, there was always scraps of wood lying around and I just started working on small projects for myself, learning as I went along through trial and error. Luckily my father was always there to provide guidance and feedback, so I was able to get an understanding of the basics of woodworking.
The real way you develop and improve skills, however, is by doing the work itself. I started off making simple things like shelves, keepsake boxes and picture frames, and each successive project drew from skills I developed from my previous projects. I started using different tools for different applications, becoming more precise and advanced in my work as I put in more hours of practice.
Once you become confident in specific skills and applications, it really opens a lot of doors in terms of designing furniture because you can get a good sense of how hard to push the limits and what you can take from a sketch to a tangible object. I’m still working to grow and hone my skills today to continually broaden my capabilities.
TaD: Where does your name, Campion, come from?
Kevin: Campion is actually the name of my freshman year dormitory at Fairfield University. After graduating in 2012, I made several coffee tables for friends who were moving into new apartments. I decided I would start a small side project making and selling furniture to people on Etsy and the first piece that I promoted was a coffee table. At the time, I was living with two roommates who also lived in Campion Hall with me and we decided to go in together. Since we were just making tables at the time and all had a connection to Campion Hall, we decided on Campion Table Company.
This is an exciting time for me because I see a change in the furniture industry where customers are becoming more and more interested in buying custom furniture with a unique style as opposed to reproduction furniture from big-box stores that was commonplace a few years ago.
Both of my previous partners have since moved away to pursue other career goals and since I don’t actually specifically specialize in tables, I am currently considering a few new company names that I feel better match my direction and brand identity as a furniture designer. This is an exciting time for me because I see a change in the furniture industry where customers are becoming more and more interested in buying custom furniture with a unique style as opposed to reproduction furniture from big-box stores that was commonplace a few years ago. Designs and consumer preferences are constantly evolving but the quality of handmade furniture is hard to match on a broad scale, so I am working on ways to align my company name with specialized, high-end custom furniture.
TaD: How and where do you source your materials?
Kevin: I source almost all of the wood I use from a local lumber yard in White Plains, NY. They have a great selection of wood so I can generally find whatever I need from them. Like any lumber yard, they let you pick out the specific boards you want, which is very important because it lets you have full control over what the piece will look like.
For materials besides lumber, I use a combination of a few other places. My father’s workshop is down the street from a local hardware store, which is great for finishing supplies and is really handy for basic hardware. I like to give them the business when I can seeing as they are a local, small business like mine.
Sometimes, however, they don’t have very specialized things I may need so, in those circumstances, I use Rockler and Woodcraft, who both have anything and everything to do with woodworking.
TaD: Being that the tables we commissioned were built by you within a short drive of my home, it’s obviously fair trade construction and Eco-friendly because it was locally made and transported. Is there anything else within your process, from sourcing materials through to delivery, that can be considered fair trade or Eco-friendly?
Kevin: As previously mentioned, I source all my lumber locally and I use sustainable wood species, primarily Ash, Maple and Fir. I avoid using plywoods and veneers, which contain volatile glues and adhesives, and whenever possible, I prefer to use natural finishes such as raw tung oil or boiled linseed oil. These sustainable materials are much better for the environment than their man-made counterparts but also give each piece an authentic, natural feeling. To me, it’s a win-win.
These sustainable materials are much better for the environment than their man-made counterparts but also give each piece an authentic, natural feeling. To me, it’s a win-win.
A vast majority of the furniture that people buy from big-box stores such as IKEA, Target, and even higher-end places like Pottery Barn, contain a surprisingly small amount of solid wood in their furniture. For the most part, they rely on engineered materials, such as MDF, covered with a thin layer of wood veneer. This is great for keeping costs down for the consumer but is unnatural to a degree and undermines the craft of woodworking to a large extent.
As I noted above, however, I think the average consumer is beginning to trend more towards natural wood products and begin to shy away from low-quality imitation furniture. There will always be a place for furniture that looks nice and is on the cheaper side, but I take pride in fully handcrafting each piece from solid wood and feel that it is a much better, sustainable market.
There will always be a place for furniture that looks nice and is on the cheaper side, but I take pride in fully handcrafting each piece from solid wood and feel that it is a much better, sustainable market.