People find their way to the woodshop for various reasons, but increasingly we see individuals who are seeking escape from the busyness of their lives spent in front of computers and tied to phones and social apps. They want to experience the "flow state" that is often associated with mastery over a set of skills, and by definition requires complete attention and focus. While woodworking can offer this respite, it is a state that we should seek in all of our work (and social interactions) and not just in our hobby or craft.
I recently listened to Cal Newport and Ezra Klein discuss just this idea - of focusing on what matters, regaining "cognitive fitness", and taking control of your time - in an episode of The Ezra Klein Show. Newport calls this "cognitive craftsmanship". Given my line of work, I was struck by the term and the concept and I thought that others who appreciate the work happening at Allied Woodshop might also enjoy a listen. For your consideration, here is Cal Newport on doing Deep Work and escaping social media.
In an over-stimulating world fueled by technology and seemingly limitless access to information, you might find yourself seeking simplicity. The design world itself tells us that we want products, spaces, and lifestyles that are simple, minimal, and beautiful. When was the last time you opened your Instagram account and saw an airy, white space with a single, beautifully crafted and handmade item? Probably seconds ago.
I find myself seeking this same simplicity in my work and in my business. I've intentionally nurtured a space for furniture makers that it small and (hopefully) enduring. Sometimes I wonder if I should try to grow my business by pursuing investors, hiring employees, adding more benches and classes, or opening additional locations. But then I remember that I'm happy having a business that I'm intimately connected to. Reading this article, The Beauty of a Simple Business, helped to remind me that keeping my business simple is an intentional choice, one that I'm happy with, and not a lack of ambition on my part.
Have you ever found yourself wondering how industry and craft might continue to thrive in a city like Los Angeles? If so, you're not alone. Allied Woodshop founder, Laura Zahn, thinks regularly about how we can build community around craft and new models for contemporary makers. She will explore themes in craft, teaching, and community building in an upcoming panel at next week's Furniture Society Conference in Philadelphia, PA along with colleagues JD Sassaman of Autodesk Pier 9, RH Lee of Offerman Woodshop, and Sarah Marriage of A Workshop of Our Own.
Interested in attending the conference? Register here.