So solid

Pub date October 11, 2007

What does it take to put two and two together — and come up with a chair? We caught local artist and craftsman Justin Godar of Godar Furniture ( in his studio just as he was about to carve some solid white oak into one of his unique custom-made designs, and asked.

SFBG You have a degree in fine arts from UC Santa Cruz. What made you decide to build furniture?

JUSTIN GODAR I just found it agreed more with my personality. I realized I wanted to make something with a function, something more than a thought. When you think about things we need to live, things we need to eat and breathe, art doesn’t usually factor in for most people. That’s the difference for me between design and art — design performs a daily function, and art is farther up on the scale of necessity.

SFBG Your custom-made designs use green materials like water-based finishes, and they sometimes push the "normal furniture" boundaries. Was it easy for you to build a clientele?

JG I get return customers, but it took persistence. I’ve been at it since 2000, so I get a constant stream of business now. I will say this, though: there is a better market for what I do here in the Bay Area than there is in other cities. There’s a lot of consideration given to art and local artists. It’s unique.

SFBG Do you have a favorite thing to build?

JG I usually like whatever I’m working on at the time. I love working in solid wood — walnut and oak. I also love the finishing process, adding the final coat, bringing the piece together. As far as items I prefer most? Cabinets I like the least, I guess. Tables and chairs make me feel more like a craftsman and less like a guy slapping something together.

SFBG How much time do you spend in the studio?

JG I’m in here five to seven days a week, usually between nine and 12 hours a day, but as I’m self-employed, it doesn’t feel like work. There isn’t someone telling me to work faster, what to work on, how to work. I do spend entirely too much time inhaling dust, but it’s what I love to do.