DELVE | APRIL 2021: Celebrating Craftsmanship
4 Min Read
Built From Scratch — Celebrating the Art of Craftsmanship With Watson
Watson’s story dates back to the early 1960s, when a South African-born cabinetmaker and metalworker named Grahame Watson set up shop on Bainbridge Island near our present-day home in Poulsbo, Washington. Twenty-five years later, Grahame handed the keys to a partnership led by Bill Haggerty, Daniel Warn, and Clif McKenzie, whose leadership stemmed more from custodianship than ownership. These days, we continue to honor Grahame's vertical integration model but have developed a continuation strategy to ensure long-term stability for the hardworking men and women who form the backbone of Watson. We employ some of the finest tooling and equipment in the world, but without the skilled and capable people running & programming them, the equipment is trivial.
There’s dignity in working with your hands
Making beautiful things is immensely satisfying. We all feel it at Watson, whether we’re designing, building, marketing, or shipping furniture. There’s something very special about contributing to a process that results in tangible products made with care and respect. Equally true for those of us in innovation, sales, and support roles as it is for those of us on the factory floor. In addition to creating beautiful things, Watson is creating jobs. Jobs for people who want what a lot of workers don’t have: the pride that comes with craftsmanship. That’s what building and manufacturing can do. That’s why we do this.
We build our furniture from scratch, which means we can demand a higher quality of materials. Our location in the Pacific Northwest gives us access to some of the best timber in the world and we carefully choose engineered wood boards that have no added formaldehyde. Many of our products are built using these boards which means that the men and women cutting, sanding, and laminating them are safe from the toxic properties of the formaldehyde used in many wood adhesives. We only work with polypropylene edge banding but encourage the use of our hand finished exposed edge option. This eliminates additional material and celebrates the quality of the wood we use. Built respectfully has many meanings at Watson. It encompasses our belief that materials matter and building furniture to be durable is important for its longevity and subsequent impact on the environment. On top of that, it means having the utmost quality in our craftsmanship and providing more than a living wage to our employees who are at the core of making truly remarkable furniture.
Everything we do at Watson is rooted in soulful design. Design that is guided first by the functional needs of our clients. Design that is refined to achieve a timeless and understated beauty that doesn't scream “look at me.” Design that is executed respectfully, uses honest materials, and delivers deeply satisfying quality.
Miro best expresses our commitment to our design ethos. It’s the genesis where cutting edge technology meets hand-craftsmanship. Miro was introduced in 2007 and remains one of our best-selling product families. The collection artfully demonstrates Watson’s fluency in blending environmentally friendly materials and celebrates our expertise in steel fabrication through its timeliness design, intricate details, and support structure which delivers superior strength and durability.
Miro’s work surface is highlighted by a custom-profiled CNC-cut edge that exposes the MDF substrate and is hand-finished with either a water-based clear coat or stain. The custom profiled top floats above a robust base formed by Miro’s distinguished triangular steel tube leg, made of 14-gauge, cold-rolled steel. The table frame is constructed of mitered corners and fully welded to create the iconic design detail that makes the Miro leg a classic.
Every Miro leg is hand mitered, welded, ground before it leaves our dock. Watson purposefully TIG welds Miro bases. TIG welding is a slow, skilled process that yields an incredibly strong precision joint when performed by expert hands. TIG uses long welding rods, gradually fed into the joint to create the arc. The process requires two hands to complete - one hand to hold the welding torch while the other hand deliberately feeds the filler metal to the weld joint. Because two hands are required to weld, TIG welding is considered to be the most difficult style to learn and execute. It’s time-consuming but gives the welder more control over the final product. The miter detail on Miro is so exceptional that we encourage the use of clearcoat finish on the steel, so the true craftsmanship is visible for everyone to see.
Exceedingly balanced and well proportioned, Miro has it all, and tells our story of precision steel craft in a refined and elegant way. We believe that when you choose any Watson product, you’re getting something we’re proud of. Something we’ve extensively tested ourselves. Something that didn’t roll off an anonymous assembly line, but something that has a history. You come to Watson because you’re inspired by design, but you stay because of our story, attention to detail, passionate people, un-matched experience, and because we’re not afraid to pull back the covers and show you what makes us Watson.