Perhaps you’ve had this daydream in the wood shop - on a still, bright morning, you’re quietly sanding tenon joints and a member of the Secret Service appears in the doorway to say, “We need you.” You set down the project and follow her out – no questions asked. I’ve thought about it. And perhaps that’s not exactly how the process works when the President of the United States commissions you to build a table for the President of France, but only Rohan Ward, of Rohan Ward Designs in Wilmette, IL, would know for sure. Ward, a student of the late master craftsman George Ingham, graduated with First Class honors from Australian National University’s Canberra School of Art, where he received formal training in Woodworking and Furniture Design. In his early career, he worked for private clients in London and throughout the English Countryside. He later managed the high-end custom furniture shop, Bernacki & Fil Workshops in Chicago, before focusing on original furniture designs and commission pieces through Rohan Ward Designs LLC. The Process In order to embody the cultural ties between France and the United States in his design, Ward selected traditional American hardwoods including cherry, walnut and maple, as well as oak sourced from a fallen tree on George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon. Ward worked with hand planes, routers and jigsaws to shape the sweeping legs, which support a turned pedestal stem and drum table. Dovetail joints secure the corners of the table’s curved-front drawer. The central display features a recessed chamber under glass, enclosing a replica of the key to the Bastille, which was given to George Washington from Marquis de Lafayette by way of Thomas Paine in 1790. The replica key was forged in Mount Vernon with iron from the Statue of Liberty. The “Point Zero” marquetry design beneath the key, mirrors the symbol in the square at the main entrance of the Notre Dame cathedral, which is considered the official center of the city of Paris. Ward says the design and the material selection work together tounite the countries in a symbolic way. After completing the piece, Ward packaged and delivered the table to Washington, DC personally. President Barack Obama presented the table to French President Francoise Hollande in commemoration of his State Visit last February. RohanWardDesigns.com
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As a writer for Woodworking Network, Matt reports on tools, trends, innovations and business methods in the woodworking industry. His experience spans e-commerce and marketing, and he specializes in developing web and media presence for businesses small and large. In addition to writing, Matt builds custom wood furniture pieces at his home in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at [email protected]
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