Tai Lake

Newest Work In Our Gallery

glass-topped table

"Mauna Kea Side Table"

Hawaiian "Curly-grain" Koa End Tables
28" L x 18" W x 24" H

The tops feature an inlay of exquisitely book-matched
rare "curly-grain" Koa within an outer border of figured Koa.

$3,900.00 each table
$7,650.00 the pair

Originally designed as a nightstand to accompany a handcrafted koa wood bed, this table readily adapts for use as a side or occasional table. The suspended top, shoji shelf, and sweeping line of the leg all provide high visual interest in this very practical piece. The top is a framed curly-grain koapanel with ebony inlay

Tai Lake
Master Woodworker

Tai Lake You don't often think of a woodworker as an artist. The term usually applied to someone who works with wood is that of "artisan", a skilled craftsman. In a few cases, however, those who design and create objects made of wood can indeed be called artists. Tai Lake is one of these.

A lifelong dedication to the study of woodworking and design began in his family's construction business and was refined through study at Buckminster Fullers' design department at Southern Illinois University.

Lake came to Hawaii in 1980 as an architectural woodworker after a woodworking apprenticeship that took him all across the US. These "journeyman" travels put him in touch with master craftsmen, architects, and artists, and allowed him to work on a wide variety of challenging projects. Years spent in the Pacific Northwest allowed him to become involved with forestry as a way of life, and today a cornerstone of the work he produces is his connection with the long term health of our forests.

Tai designs and builds fine furniture from local hardwoods. Like most master woodworkers here in Hawaii, Tai believes in protecting and preserving his resources . . . particularly the increasingly rare Hawaiian "curly-grain" Koa. Tai manages a koa forest project in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. He is president of the Big Island Woodworkers Guild and lives in Holualoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Tai's work has received numerous awards and images of his work have been published nationally.

Click Here
to See Tai Lake's newest work in our gallery

You might also enjoy the studio furniture designs of
other Hawaii artisans in our collection

Greg Davidge
Mats Fogelvik
Shaun Fleming
Robert Lippoth
Randall Watkins

"Departures", the private magazine for American Express Platinum card members, recently featured Tai and his work in a feature story. The following is taken from that article, written by Richard John Pietschman in his column:

"The Black Book . . In The Know".

"Limited Edition"

"Few artists prepare their own raw materials --- imagine a painter weaving canvases --- but Hawaii-based master furniture maker Tai Lake is one of them. Lake, whose studio-workshop lies outside the hamlet of Holualoa on the Big Island, works almost exclusively in koa, a species of acacia native to Hawaii. He uses only trees from nearby Greenwell ranch and mills the wood to his artistic requirements on-site using a portable sawmill. 'I see that tree when it first opens up, and sometimes I'll see a table, right there at the sawmill,' he says.

The former architectural woodworker thrives on koa's colors (blonde to dark-brown, with reds, golds, and yellows woven in) and what he describes as its 'infinite variety of grain'. The wood's downside: Koa is 'very capricious' to shape, he says. 'That beautiful grain makes it a nightmare to work. Every tool in the shop has to be razor sharp.'

Each year Lake crafts around 70 studio-furniture pieces-----tables, chairs, desks, and chests --- about half commissioned and the rest destined for a handful of galleries. His rocking chairs, which have long, gracefully recurved bottoms, have become his signature pieces. 'All the lines in my pieces harmonize," he explains. "The components are balanced, and everything is proportional and scaled.'

Tai Lake uses hundreds of tools, most of them hand implements to bring forth a piece from the wood. Hand-sanding the finish takes nearly a third of the time. The result: exceptional balance and sensitivity of line. 'To most people, wood is this hard and unyielding thing that has to be forced into shape," says Lake. "But for me, wood is like clay.' . . . "

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