Artisan-made furniture feels right at home in northern Arizona. As people increasingly look at furniture not solely as functional, but as an expression of their personality, talented artisans creating unique, one-of-kind pieces are enjoying new appreciation.
“Artisans have been around since ancient Egypt,” notes Lynne Montedonico, Sedona Monthly’s style consultant. “But I think they have taken on a whole new focus in home décor in recent years. We’re quite fortunate to have such a wide range of artisans working in Arizona now.”
Buying artisan-made furniture also is a natural fit with the rising awareness of eco-sensitive living. Buying from local artisans is environmentally friendly (reduced emissions to transport the items) and contributes to the greening of your home since many artisans insist on sustainable and natural materials. “I think people, in general, are more interested in handcrafted items right now,” says Lynne, “especially at a time when it seems like everything is mass-produced.”
On the following pages, you’ll meet six Arizona artisans whose talents are beautifying local living: Alex Beres finds inspiration in old-world Europe for his custom ironwork; Jody Florman paints murals and borders in every pattern imaginable; Linda Garrison gives you a brand-new view with her architectural leaded glass windows; Tim McClellan reclaims wood from dilapidated buildings for heirloom-quality furniture; Craig Nimtz crafts furniture from local manzanita and juniper; and Ken Skiby has made a family business out of distressed-wood furniture. And readers outside Arizona, take heart: Most of these artisans will travel for clients or ship out of state. Now, everyone can get in on Arizona artisans’ arrival.
Alex Beres: Ironwork
Alex Beres fled the communist regime in his hometown of Budapest when he was in his 20s, but his love for the city’s ironwork never left. Just before we spoke, he had returned to his central Phoenix workshop after three weeks in Europe – which he visits annually – photographing gates and fences from the 1800s for inspiration. “It’s in my blood,” he says. “There was so much talent hundreds of years ago. I’m inspired by the old world – Brussels, Paris, Budapest, and Milan.”
Alex began crafting furniture and light fixtures from iron in the 1960s and eventually opened Ferro Style in California in 1990 (“ferro” means “iron” in Italian). In 1995, Alex and his wife moved to Arizona, settling in Phoenix. Ever since he has crafted fences, gates, chandeliers, wall sconces, benches, tables, and – his specialty – hand rails for multi-million dollar homes in Paradise Valley, Desert Mountain, and Sedona. He spent 18 months working on a $20 million remodel project near the Arizona Biltmore, but feels “it wasn’t for me. I like smaller projects.”
Alex laughs as he says he works “eight days a week” designing his unique iron pieces in consultation with interior designers, homebuilders, and other clients. He has formulated his own finish solutions to turn iron a dark brown or dark rust as desired. In keeping with his old-world style, Alex has no website and checks his e-mail only about once a month; he still prefers to draw his designs by hand. “Everything now is computerized and I don’t like it,” he asserts. “People took their time [in previous eras] – everything is so uniform now.”
Alex Beres – Ferro Style, LLC