Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York
BEN ERICKSON - furniture designer and founder of Erickson Aesthetics - has always been outdoorsy. "I grew up going to the woods, going to the country," says Erickson. "As a teenager, my friends and I would just out to the Delaware Water Gap and go hiking or rock climbing."
These days, Erikson spends time in the woods with his son, carving walking sticks and building fires. "I'm not religious at all," says Erickson, "but if I was going to have any kind of spiritual place, it would be the woods."
His designs - often made of wood, with simple lines - are evocative of nature. "I always build for quality. And I don't hesitate to show the structure of a piece." It's clear from his work that Erickson cares deeply about his craft and places an emphasis on working with craftsmen. "You don't really have a craft if you don't have the craftsmen," he says.
"I build all of my pieces in and around New York City and there's a wealth of individual craftsmen and artisans here. I go to Williamsburg to work with these Italian woodturners who've been there for three generations," Erickson says, obviously impressed by the family's commitment to their craft. "They just celebrated their 100-year anniversary!"