ANDREW MUGGLETON LABORED IN HIS WOODSHOP in Boulder, Colo., for four weeks, perfecting a chest of drawers made from African makore wood, ebonized oak and glass. He painstakingly designed the piece with graceful lines that mimic the path a skier might take down a mountain. When he finally finished it, he discovered he had "accidentally made its shipping crate too small. "I said, 'That's it, I'm keeping it,' he says in his thick British accent.
Muggleton pours so much of his energy, creativity and passion into each piece—whether it's a chest of drawers, a coffee table or a bed—he sometimes finds it hard to let go. "It's like giving away not only a chunk of my lifetime but an entire thought process, he says.
The craftsman learned his trade as a child from his father, who made simple household items in the garage of their London home. Early on, possessing only basic carpentry skills, Muggleton discovered he had a talent for transforming storage boxes and tables into uniquely artful and exotic designs. But when the time came to go to college, he "chickened out of pursuing his passion and got an engineering degree instead, which landed him a career as a London-based design engineer for Ford Motor Company.
But Muggleton's itch to follow his childhood dream only got stronger, and six years ago, it got the best of him. He quit his job in the U.K., and he and his wife moved to Colorado, where Muggleton also could pursue his passion for skiing. (After growing up skiing in the French and Swiss Alps, his family now frequents Vail and Keystone.) He did some research and discovered that for the same amount of money he would spend to go to trade school, he could buy a woodshop and begin his business immediately. "If you want to do something, I believe you should just do it, he says.
For the next few years, Muggleton built his business and honed his skills. He experimented with a centuries-old technique of bending wood, in which thin layers are joined together, placed in a mold and inserted into a vacuum press, which applies four tons of pressure to slowly change the piece's shape. Muggleton's curves resemble those he finds in nature—ocean waves, bent stalks of tall grass or the graceful turns made by a skier. Those curves—now his design trademark—have won him many awards, such as the 2001 and 2002 "Best of Show award at the Boulder Art Fair, and landed his furniture in galleries in Vail, Beaver Creek and Stowe, Vt., as well as in craft shows across the country.
As for that chest of drawers, it now sits in his 2-year-old son Maxwell's room—reminding him every day not to chicken out.
See more of Muggleton's work at his website, andrewmuggleton.com.
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