CWB December 1998

Kitchen/Bath Cabinets & Overall Winner | Specialty Products | Architectural Millwork | Commercial/Institutional Furniture | Residential Furniture | Honorable Mentions


1999 Design Portfolio Awards

Kudos to 15 Top Projects

by Helen Kuhl

Question: What do a Japanese-style kitchen, a bishop's house, a law office conference table, an Early American armoire and a decorative "optical illusion" panel have in common?

Answer: They are all projects which won top honors in CWB's sixth annual Design Portfolio Awards competition, and they are profiled in this section.

As in the past, there was an array of outstanding woodworking projects submitted, all demonstrating the high level of ingenuity and craftsmanship which abound in the industry. Every year, it is our great pleasure to honor a few of them, although it is always a difficult choice.

Briefly, the top winners are as follows:

  • Proving that kitchen cabinetry does not have to be routine, this year's overall winner (highest-scoring project) was the entry in the Kitchen/Bath Cabinets category. Cyr Construction Co. Inc., Brooklyn, NY, blended unique styling with functionality while designing for a very small space (4 feet by 8 feet), building a Japanese-style kitchen.
  • In contrast, Zepsa Industries, Charlotte, NC, had 20,000 square feet to fill when it produced trim, doors, staircases, paneled rooms and cabinetry for a bishop's residence. The project was top winner in the Architectural Millwork category and included a one-of-a-kind master bath with whirlpool tub surrounded by four hand-turned vertical columns.
  • Rosemont Design Group's Early American-style armoire, winner in the Residential Furniture category, is interesting in that it integrates purchased components into the design with stunning results. Also of interest is the story of Rosemont owner Ken Hochfeld's perseverance during the early years of his company as he slowly built a demand for his creative high-end work.
  • The intricacy of the details and innovative methods used to design and produce an optical illusion in wood and glass are among the unusual elements of P.C. Woodworking's "Hall of Glass," a decorative panel that was named top winner in the Specialty Products category. Shop owner Patrick Herforth said he spent 240 hours building the piece, which he called "a labor of love."
  • A conference table that was part of a one-year project for a law firm was the winner in the Commercial/Institutional Furniture category. The 82-inch-diameter table, built by Guildwood of St. Mary's, OH, features highly figured curly walnut veneer that owner Dennis Peterson called "a once-in-a-lifetime find."

In addition, 10 projects received Honorable Mention awards. All our winners deserve kudos for their excellent work.


About the Judges

Literally thousands of hours of work went into the projects that were entered in this year's Design Portfolio Awards competition, which made the job of selecting the winners a great challenge, to say the least. A panel of five judges, who represented a variety of viewpoints within the custom woodworking industry, spent the better part of a day reviewing all 40 entries. The dedicated group included:

  • Scott DeGenova, vice-president of Custom Veneered Interiors Inc. in Algonquin, IL. CVI does architectural millwork, specializing in custom cabinetry and serving primarily the commercial market. DeGenova just completed a two-year term as president of the Chicago Chapter of the Architectural Woodwork Institute.
  • Gerald Finch, instructor of wood technics at Fox Valley Technical College in Oshkosh, WI. The school offers a one-year vocational diploma in Wood Technics designed to prepare graduates to be shop-level woodworkers. Finch developed the department's curriculum and has been its head for 16 years. He was selected as 1996 "Educator of the Year" by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Assn. (WMIA).
  • Barbara Garet is Design Editor for CWB and Wood & Wood Products magazines. She is a member of the International Furnishings and Design Assn. and has served as a judge in the past three student Design Emphasis competitions at IWF in Atlanta. She was also a judge in the first Pinnacle Awards competition sponsored by the American Society of Furniture Designers.
  • Tom Gleason is co-founder of Bailey & Gleason Cabinetmakers in Chicago. The company specializes in architectural millwork, entertainment centers, library and wall units, and freestanding cabinets, tables and bedroom furniture. Gleason is also a project manager for Highland Park Millwork in Highland Park, IL, and is a contributing editor to CWB.
  • Robert Kleeman has been a full-time woodworker since 1975, beginning as an apprentice in a violin shop. He is co-founder of the Workshop of Barrington, which focuses on historic reproductions, adaptations and the conservation of antique furniture.

A heartfelt thanks from CWB to this dedicated group for their time devoted to choosing this year's five category winners and 10 Honorable Mention recipients. It was a demanding job, well done.

Would you like your company to be included in next year's competition? E-mail Helen Kuhl at to receive information about how to enter.

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