I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Political Science and studied Advanced Woodworking at Western Michigan University. The studies at Western Michigan revolved around the history of furniture design, furniture making and finishing, as well as building practices and project management.With that education behind me, I joined Juell Floors in the Chicago high end custom flooring market and apprenticed as a patterned floor installer and antique floor repair specialist. When a space opened up in a co-operative design/build shop, I left Juell to start Hylan Design in 1986. I sold, designed, built, finished and installed the best product that I was capable of for the first 15 years.
After three years I began to hire help to satisfy our growing customer base. By 1995, our staff was up to six people. Now, in 2014, Hylan is comprised of twelve skilled project managers, draftsmen and designers, benchmen of various skill levels and three specialists in the finishing department.
Our customers have need of design, specification, wood selection, finish selection, fine woodworking skills, specialized finishing of all sorts, coordinating site installations, moving delicate furniture pieces and components, and bringing in skilled installers to make all the rest of our work shine in the space it was intended. I have a little bit to do with each of these processes each day. My role is sales, design director, project coordinator, engineer and networker. Every day is different, and as a result, I am forever learning new things and being challenged by my customers, staff and vendors.
I love collaborating with other designers, architects, customers and artisans to create uniquely beautiful, completely custom millwork and furniture of the highest quality imaginable, and then enjoying feedback from customers who are excited by what we’ve created to help uphold their exclusive brand as a business or in their homes as a reward for all their hard work and perseverance in their own fields.
Get the best of both worlds through study
The fields of architecture, interior design, industrial and product design are excellent paths to understanding the history and intent of good design. One of these course studies aligned with a passion to view, enjoy and build beautiful pieces of furniture are a winning combination. I personally believe a school that teaches these disciplines should have a wood/metal shop (some refer to them as labs or model shops), but someplace where the student can be mentored to learn and understand the physical processes that go into furniture making.