By Emma Castleberry
Brian Boggs’ foray into chairmaking was inspired by wood artist James Krenov. In his twenties, Boggs discovered Krenov’s book, The Fine Art of Cabinet Making. After voracious reading of this and other woodworking titles, Boggs made his first chair in the winter of 1983 and has been filling custom orders ever since.
Unlike many woodworkers, Boggs focuses on ergonomic concepts when creating his chairs and other furniture. “The complexity of the human form does not fit the rigid way that woodworking machinery is often used,” he says. “But by starting with logs and traditional handwork as the foundation, I have been able to follow my imagination rather than tradition. As a result, I think you will see much more fluidity in our designs over what is usually offered.
Customers Paul and Diane Zimmerman purchased two Sunniva rocking chairs from Boggs three years ago. “There is an incredible amount of hand work in each piece and it shows,” says Diane. “The chairs still look great and are as solid as the day they were made.”
The Zimmermans also appreciate the rigorous sustainability policy upheld by the company. “We source our wood as close to our shop as we can,” Boggs says. “Much of the wood we use is harvested from right here in town. We have lumber shipped in only when we cannot get what our clients need locally.” One example of a wood that cannot be found locally is mahogany. For mahogany pieces, Boggs sources old-growth wood from Honduras through GreenWood, a nonprofit forest management organization that Boggs helped to start in the 1990s.
Nine years ago, Boggs moved his business from Kentucky to Asheville and met his now-wife, Melanie, when he hired her to help restructure his business. “It was obvious that I needed a business partner and her skills and background fit,” Boggs says. “So, we started off on this bigger vision together.”
The bigger version is much bigger, with a 10,000-square-foot production facility in the Asheville River Arts District where Boggs and his team create a variety of wooden furniture: dining tables, dressers, tables, desks, bookcases, stools and, of course, chairs. The studio offers free tours every weekday at 2 p.m. The showroom is also open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. “I don’t know if there are many other furniture shops locally that allow visitors to watch how craftsmen build pieces from start to finish using a combination of traditional and very innovative ways to build,” Boggs says. “Our tours are motivated by our desire to keep the craft alive.”
Brian Boggs Chairmakers is located at 239 Amboy Road in the River Arts District of Asheville. Backless bar stools start at $850 and dining chairs start at $2,000. For more information, call 828.398.9701 or visit brianboggschairmakers.com.