Let’s face it, most modern furniture pieces are industrial products. Raw materials are transformed to meet design specifications — so many widgets, albeit often well-designed ones, that we can sit on.
Not so with the work of Kelly Maxwell.
His furniture does not hide its source. Design is not imposed to create a piece; rather, it is found in the raw material — the wood that is his medium. He even has his own “wood monger.” His material is the heart of the custom furniture he crafts in his Nashville industrial space. All sustainably sourced, the wood is the starting point. It leads the way. It’s why he and his “monger” talk almost every day, sometimes several times a day.
Driftwood, reclaimed wood beams, burl slabs, sustainably harvested Pacific rainforest hardwoods — Maxwell prefers using dead standing trees, or logs, from the forest floor — all are on his menu of raw materials.
He also collaborates with a blacksmith and an antler artist who live nearby, incorporating their unique work into some of his pieces. Glass and brushed metals add dynamism to some of the tables, desks, countertops, fireplace mantels, and beds that he creates.
Not surprisingly, his shop sports a wealth of tools, both obscure and valuable. He’s an enthusiast of the German toolmaker, Festool (furniture making is precision work, after all, and there’s nothing like German engineering).
Although his pieces fall under the “rustic” moniker, much of them work well with modern design. For example, one “rustic table” in his gallery is well-matched with the linear Parsons’ Chairs that surround it, creating a stylish ensemble.
Maxwell is a self-taught artisan. Over the years, he has developed his craft and his unique approach to furniture making, all of which he designs, and builds, himself (though he regularly interns younger woodworkers). He has relationships with interior designers. He’s a successful artist.
It all started when he made some pieces for his daughter’s wedding. They were a hit. Family and friends started asking him to make furniture for them. A hobby began to turn into a business. Soon, craft shows were on his schedule, and a webpage was up and running. Little Branch Farm was a born and the brand began.
The shop is always calling him, according to Kelly, but his life is also filled with family, especially his grandchildren.
Go take a peek at some of his work, FOLLOW HIM ON INSTAGRAM, and say hello the next time you visit Nashville.