Here’s our exchange:
Tom, when we checked in back in August 2020, it sounded like it was business as usual on Grove Street for you and Primo, though the pandemic had just settled five months prior. Here we are two Christmas seasons later, and the pandemic is still lingering. How’s it going for you at Black Creek Designs?
Business is still going very well here at Black Creek Designs. I have been exceptionally fortunate to have a growing list of clients who are interesting people and want to explore the possibilities when it comes to furnishing their homes. In the process I am able to forge lasting relationships and create unique pieces the I hope are meaningful. I was also lucky enough to be featured Fine Woodworking’s Annual Tools and Shops issue, which got great feedback. Primo is busy as well, mostly with napping.
The Smithsonian Craft Show went very well and it was truly an honor to be selected to exhibit for my 5th time. It was virtual this year due to the continued Covid situation. I had not participated in an online show before so it was a new experience. I got a tremendous reception from existing clients and was pleased to have two tables purchased by a new client in Washington D.C. who has an extensive furniture collection.
The town saw unbelievably high activity in the real estate market starting in the late-summer and fall of 2020, and there’s been related high activity for the New Canaan Building Department with applications from those new homeowners. They need furniture. What if any effect has the increase in activity had on you and your business?
It has been extremely busy especially since early 2020. In 30 years of doing business and the last 15 here in New Canaan, I have never had such a sustained period of daily inquires for new projects, both local and nationally. I have worked with some wonderful people. Many are new clients with new homes in the area, and there have also been repeat customers wanting new and upgraded furniture additions. Sometimes people are not sure where to start when commissioning a piece of furniture, but I walk them through the process and often do an on-site consult. I think people enjoy the process of seeing where their pieces are being made and shopping locally.
What are some of the new pieces you’re working on or have recently finished for clients?
Currently, I am finishing up two showpiece conference tables and two credenzas for Bankwell’s new offices on Elm Street. They have been a pleasure to work with, and I am excited about the pieces. These are new designs and it has been a wonderful challenge given the size and scope of the project. But I have also treasured some of the more intimate pieces I have made lately, such as a beautiful foyer table for a Stonington client and three pieces—a large side board, foyer table and side table—that went into a stunning Rowayton home directly on Long Island Sound.
What else would you like to tell our readers about yourself, Primo or Black Creek Designs?
I am thankful for all the support from family, friends and patrons, and so happy to be part of this town where I grew up. Primo and I love our walks to Zumbach’s and Mead Park, and we are happy to have visitors here at the shop on Grove Street. I enjoy showing people what I am currently working on and sharing what I have learned in 30 years of woodworking and design. And biscuit or not, Primo will also be excited to see you.
[Past installments of our Q&A series with local businesses this holiday season can be found here.]