Tom Moser, founder of Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Auburn, Maine, was recently inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame in the specialty design category.
“I never thought of myself as a designer, but rather as a builder working closely with form,” Moser says. “The funny thing is that I learned my woodworking technology from people who preceded me by hundreds of years doing restoration and repair work.”
The New England and Design Hall of Fame honors individuals who have had especially significant careers in residential design in New England. A small number of architects, interior designers and landscape architects whose work, influence and community involvement set them at the pinnacle of their profession are inducted annually.
Boston’s North Bennett Street School was inducted in 2011.
As a college professor in the mid-1960s, Moser says he felt the compulsion to build, to create something real and physical with his hands. That realization led him on a 40-year journey creating handcrafted furniture pieces.
“I never set out to create a business. I set out to recapture some of the values we lost 100 years earlier. My early designs were based on antecedent forms and they were within the aesthetic forms. A couple years into it I realized if I were going to make a success, I couldn’t just sell and celebrate other designers forever,” Moser says.
“The model I used for this was George Nakashima, who imposed the Japanese aesthetic on an 18th century American form. If he could bring the Windsor chair to Japan, I could bring the Windsor to the 20th century. That was the impetus of my design. It was time to build a brand, rather than sell a service, and that is how it all started.”
Moser extends credit to his employees, saying they gave him just as much as he gave them.
“My workers were pretty serious as to how they were dedicated. Whatever success we had is from our ability to communicate and work as a team. I am looking to retire soon, so my creativity and design is being replaced by the creativity of my son David and several others here in the shop.”
Contact: Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, 72 Wright’s Landing, Auburn, ME 04210. Tel: 800-862-1973. www.thosmoser.com
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue.