Rock On

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Mountain Life 1204

Ethan Hutchinson, a fourth-generation

woodworker based in Denver, Colo., has an affinity for the mountains. It's only fitting, then, that he's found a loyal following in resort towns throughout the Rockies. His signature pieces, custom rocking chairs defined by sinewy lines and undulating slats-at once solid and elegant-are the perfect fit for a mountain environment. "The best design is a simple one," says Hutchinson. "Too often, furniture is overdesigned to compensate for a lack of comfort and durability."

A former analytic chemist, Hutchinson is a man of precision who now chooses to channel his meticulous nature into a more tactile career. "I originally started to build chairs as a sanity defense," he says. But soon enough, he was flooded with gallery orders from Wyoming to New Mexico. The growing demand made for a natural transition from chemist to craftsman. "I had grown up around furniture shops, so I felt very comfortable working with my hands," he says.

Hutchinson comes from a long line of furniture makers-from his great-uncle to his father. "My strongest influences were my grandfather, who built Queen Anne furniture, and also Sam Maloof, the father of the contemporary organic style of American craft," he says. "I studied under Maloof at Anderson Ranch (a working artists' community in Snowmass, Colo.), and I've continued to study his work ever since."

Hutchinson's rockers, which sell for about $2,500, are his most popular pieces, but his repertoire runs the gamut-from cherry benches to walnut wedding chests. He was recently hired to design and build all of the tables, stools, benches and booths for Aspen's Takah Sushi restaurant-a tribute to his clean, sophisticated designs.

Although Hutchinson easily clocks 60 hours a week in his woodworking shop, his flexible career lends itself to the luxury of skiing when the rest of the world is working. Clearly, his representation in ski town galleries is no coincidence. ethanhutchinson.com

DECEMBER 2004