A must-read for the craftsperson, artisan and artist. “In his beautiful book, Peter Korn invites us to understand craftsmanship as an activity that connects us to others, and affirms what is best in ourselves.”—Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
Woodworking, handicrafts — the rewards of creative practice, bringing something new and meaningful into the world through one’s own vision, make us fully alive. Peter Korn explains his search for meaning as an Ivy-educated child of the middle class who finds employment as a novice carpenter on Nantucket, transitions to self-employment as a designer/maker of fine furniture, takes a turn at teaching at Colorado’s Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and finally founds a school in Maine: the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, an internationally respected, non-profit institution.
How does the making of objects shape our identities? How does creative work enrich our communities and society? What does the process of making things reveal to us about ourselves? Korn poignantly provides answers in this book that is for the artist, artisan, crafter, do-it-yourselfer inside us all.
We read a book such as this for the most important of reasons: to find some insight into our own work and becoming.
—Patrick Downes in Head, Hands, and Heart: Generations With Peter Korn
In his beautiful book Why We Make Things and Why It Matters, Peter Korn invites us to understand craftsmanship as an activity that connects us to others, and affirms what is best in ourselves.
—Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
What is the point of craft in a completely mass-produced world? Peter Korn’s life, as told here, holds an answer. This fascinating account offers insights into the significance of the handmade object for the maker as well as for society as a whole.
What a superb book this is. The measure of its excellence is such that, the central premise being so clearly intelligent, so engagingly correct, it would still prove a worthwhile read even if its execution had been a letdown. As it is, the perfectly planned prose and stylish design could elevate Peter Korn s account of his life and career, as a craftsman (a furniture maker) to the status of a modern classic. This is one cool piece of work.
—Robert Crampton, The Times (UK)
Peter Korn writes that his work as a furniture-maker tries to accomplish three goals: integrity, simplicity, and grace. Fortunately, these qualities are also what distinguish his writing. In this book, he gives the reader an almost tangible sense of what it takes to be a creative craftsman, a homo faber, a maker of things, which is one of the central elements of the human condition. But he does much more than that: he explores what the search for self and for belonging entails in our rapidly changing times.
Peter Korn’s brilliant new book resonates with me as a visual artist in a profound way. I share his passion for craft and admire his ability to take a plank of wood and fashion anything he sets his mind to. Throughout the centuries, furniture makers and painters have shared a set of belief systems centered on craft. The pleasure and calm that I get as a painter fashioning a complicated work from colored dirt on canvas is, I believe, the same pleasure and peace that Peter Korn and his students get as craftsmen.
Here, furniture maker Korn shifts from how-to guides to a more philosophical approach to woodcraft. […] This book documents Korn’s personal philosophy, interweaves art and existence, and is based on a strong belief in his work.[…] An uplifting title for artisans, novice or skilled, who will benefit from the ideas of a kindred spirit.
The style of Peter Korn’s lovely, patient and fastidious ode to craft, “Why We Make Things and Why It Matters,” mirrors the technical precision and style he has used in his career as a furniture maker and teacher.
—The New York Times