Three years ago, I wrote an article about Queen Anne’s County’s gifted artisan of wood, Vicco von Voss. I heard from readers as far away as Knoxville, TN, Kansas City, MO and upstate NY who were amazed by the images I had included of his custom furniture. His website includes this picture of a stylish desk that was unfinished at the time of my previous visit.
Now whenever I tour a House of the Week and I admire especially creative artisan doors or pieces of furniture, I am not surprised when the owners confirm that the work was Vicco’s.
After I saw this one-of-a-kind door in a recent Chestertown loft apartment that I featured, I knew it was time to revisit Vicco in his studio.
Vicco was born in Kiel, Germany. Both his grandfathers, one a forester and woodcarver, and the other an architect who had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright during the latter’s time in Germany instilled in him an appreciation for wood and its design potential. After his family left Germany for the US, they settled in Maryland and Vicco received a degree in Fine Art from Washington College in Chestertown in 1991. Upon graduation, he was an apprentice to famed Heinrich Meyerfeldt in Hamburg, Germany where he was introduced to the fine art of contemporary wood making and he knew he had found his life’s work. After he graduated Summa cum Laude in Theoretical and Practical exams, he returned to the US and has made the Eastern Shore his home since 1994.
He has great respect for trees as living things and uses locally salvaged trees that in his gifted hands become one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture in a combination of traditional joinery methods and contemporary design elements. Each creation is as unique and lasting as the tree from which it came.
Vicco’s property includes both the house for his family and his “bolz” (workshop). His four-legged greeter, a German Shepherd, named “Timber,” of course, was the first to meet me. I first admired the completion of Vicco’s workshop complex since the original building had been just his studio and wood was stored outside.
Now a breezeway connects original building with the new building that is used for milling, wood storage and processing. All of the materials used in the structures are either reclaimed or recycled.
A swivel crane can move the material from the sawmill into the storage area. Inside the storage area Vicco has arranged tall stacks of wood, according to species. Previously, all the wood was stored outside.
I was fascinated to see Vicco’s commission that is his largest to date, the design of a timber framed structure for a restaurant, the Lures Bar and Grille in Crownsville, Maryland.
The high pitched roof will have clerestories on both sides above the sloped roofs along each side of the building. The sides will be open at the ground for dining al-fresco. The lower portion of the frame is all fabricated from live edge walnut timbers. This will give the patron of the restaurant the feeling as if they are dining in the woods.
Vicco’s colleague began to lower the walnut crook and to use the bridge crane to slowly lower each crook into the mortise of the beam. They fit like a hand in a glove, but one would expect nothing less from this master artisan of wood.
Vicco has a loft office overlooking the studio and I enjoyed seeing early study models of past projects. I also enjoyed seeing full size prototypes of two of his chair designs. The seat is shaped like the seat of a tractor and is much more comfortable than a standard chair seat.
I left Vicco’s studio with an even deeper admiration of his talent and I look forward to keeping up with this remarkable artisan. Stay Tuned!
Jennifer Martella is an architect with Bohl Architects’ Annapolis office and a referral agent for Meredith Fine Properties. Jennifer is an integral part of Bohl Architects’ design team for projects she brings to the firm. She is also the writer of Bohl’s website’s bi-monthly blog “Tango Funhouse” where she highlights the firm’s vision and other fun aspects of life by design. Her Italian heritage led her to Piazza Italian Market, where she hosts wine tastings every Friday and Saturday.