This acclaimed furniture designer’s reverence for wood comes through in every piece he makes, the quality of his craftsmanship running like deep roots through every step of the creative process. Local tree surgeons know him well; Lehrecke rescues fallen hardwood whenever possible. He prizes both its form and its flaws, from the white oak drying in the outside shed to the cherry in the woodshop planer.
His studio sits on a rise in the hamlet of Bangall, NY. Built in 2004 with pine beams and ash pegs, the frame was raised in two days by a Syracuse company working from Lehrecke’s drawings. This is his sixth studio in 25 years, and it’s a culmination of everything he had—and more aptly didn’t have—in previous workspaces. For more information, visit Chris Lehrecke.
Photography by Martha Pichey (except where noted).
Above: Lehrecke's three-story studio evokes the classic barns of Dutchess County.
Above: Lehrecke built the drying shed before the studio. After he chooses the wood, it goes through another drying phase on the studio’s heated basement floor.
Above: The branches are elm, sadly scarce now due to the blight of Dutch elm disease throughout the northeast. The long sculptural forms are destined to morph into tables. Photograph by Chris Lehrecke.
Above: The staircase Lehrecke designed was hoisted into position in one piece. The treads are tongue-and-grooved hemlock, salvaged from staging used to repair the Kingston Bridge; the metal spine is by Prandoni Fabrications.
Above: This area of the studio is part shipping and storage space, a moveable feast of beautifully made tables, lamps, chairs and dressers. The walls are lined with 1/8-inch plywood of Italian poplar. Photograph by Chris Lehrecke.
Above: Lehrecke designs on the top floor, with shelving as half-wall behind the desk. His working vocabulary—the history of design spanning the last century—is revealed through books, photos, and found artifacts.
Above: Turned offcuts of cherry, bleached ash and walnut live on as lustrous candlesticks. They’re on their way to his store in nearby Hudson, at 415 Warren Street. Photograph by Chris Lehrecke.
Above: Jimmy Decrescenzo, who has worked with Lehrecke for 25 years, turns a signature pedestal of walnut. Every square inch of the studio has its designated duty. Photograph by Chris Lehrecke.
Above: Panes of blue industrial glass find their way into almost every window. The table beneath is walnut, and turned on a lathe despite its size. The rot pocket, once filled with carpenter ants, defines the beauty of the piece.
Above: The wood-burning furnace feeds hot water into the radiant heating system in the basement, which heats the entire 4,500-square-foot building.
Above: The long walk home takes nearly… five minutes, through a stand of sugar maples and over the brook to the converted chapel where they raised their two sons. The design studio of his wife, jeweler Gabrielle Kiss, is across the street.