Tripp Carpenter runs Espenet Furniture since 2006. He has worked with wood since he was six years old in his father's shop. His father, Art Carpenter, passed on his self-taught knowledge to his son. In addition to dreaming up his own functional and artistic woodworking pieces, Tripp continues to produce editions of his father’s famous designs.
I grew up in and around the furniture trade for most of my life. I think I must have spent thirty years off and on turning wood in the back of my father's shop watching apprentices come and go and observing all the different ideas and designs being made and talked about.
I never thought that I would make furniture for a living. I saw it as mostly very hard work with little return. It was not until I was 50, two years before my father passed away in 2006, that I actually considered trying to work as furniture maker. I was teaching high school art in San Francisco when my father called me one day to see if I could finish a drop leaf table for a client. I did finish it and saw that there were more orders to fill.
It has now been almost 20 years since I have taken on this mode of living. I always thought the work would end. I have gone a few months without work but for the most part it has been a success. My mantra has always been "believe in yourself" and see what happens.
I am not my father nor would ever want to be. He was a workaholic in my mind. I never wanted to be in the shop all the time. I do not want anyone to think I strive to fill his shoes. I strive to make a living making furniture. For anyone who does this for a living knows what I am talking about.
I have had the benefit of knowing intimately how to make most all of my father's designs. Those designs are many. He was extremely experimental, continuously trying new things. Every time I think I come up with something new, I realize he already did it. It is a little disconcerting but at the same time quite extraordinary. As I continue do be in the trade and getting older, I realize more and more how prolific my father was. So I never try to compare myself to him or anyone else. To do so is to destroy oneself or the other.
I feel that what I am doing now is really a continuation of the time I was working for my father. The only difference now is that I cannot ask him questions.