Our Marketing & Design Intern, Hannah Gray, had the opportunity to talk with some of our Speaking in Species artists. In this Q&A, Hannah learns about Derek Hennigar's inspirations and uses of wood species.
You call your work "Ordinary Furniture." But why “Ordinary?” Why not “Extraordinary?”
When I started out years ago, it was kind of Ordinary, but it was also sort of ironic too, growing up in NC and being around the furniture industry. It seemed like the smaller furniture companies had more grandiose names. I thought I might be ironic and call it Ordinary. It’s just gotten more and more ironic over time.
What inspires you to create?
Everything from the Appalachian craft tradition – I have an old ladderback chair that my great great grandfather built that sits in my kitchen, and I still sit on it everyday to put my shoes on. It’s an 1875 and it's rock solid – so there’s that. I also have buliders on my mothers side of the family. But growing up in NC around all the good woods and the furniture industry really influenced me.
Do the different species influence your final product?
This piece was made out of polonia (points to Truncated Kybos Twist). In NC it’s considered an invasive species that grows particularly through the mountains, but even through Greensboro too. You’ll see a crack in the parking lot, and you’ll see a polonia tree coming up through there, so it’s an opportunist. But out in the forest if there’d be an ice storm and some big trees get knocked down, polonia trees grow nice and straight. In Japan they’re revered, they’re called "curie" there; it’s a revered tree. But it’s also ironic that in NC it’s a weed. Anyways, it takes panel and dye very well so I use that. It’s probably the greenest wood product to use – it has the fastest carbon uptake tree species. It’s very fast growing.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Oh geez, there’s a lot! Visit my website: ordinaryfurniture.com!