You know people that you meet who dream up & build amazing things to leave you wondering, how in the h-e-double hockey sticks do they do that? For me, one of those creators is a prairie guy who towers over most. I come from a family where the average height is above 6′ – I am use to feeling short – I swear when meeting him, I had to look straight up.
With a quirky yet confident grin, Mark, say it with me !!Zwaagstra!! (
don’t ask me to say it out loud alone, I yell when I am not confidant with my words) who went through Civil Engineering Technology, a Bachelor of Environmental Design & Masters of Architecture, has a creative & erudite mind that deals with design.
This has led him to contribute his skills to large scale projects such as schools, zoos & condo buildings. Mark has kitchen & home work on his resume, wine cellars, even prisons. Diverse in design & imagination? Clearly.
What I find the most captivating about his capabilities & mindset is him finding time for a passion he holds in custom & handmade furniture or smaller everyday pieces. He definitely has an eye for woodworking. Well really, they are works of art. Mark can make a simple cutting board (you’ll eye it below for sure) look like something you would consider hanging on the wall in your dining room or a table most would probably be cautious about setting a glass of vino on – a really great reason to snap up these
A little from Mark, the master-maker himself…
PLB: How long have you been in practicing design?
MZ: I’ve been designing for about 12 years, but only hit my stride about 7 yrs ago
PLB: When did you decide to get into doing customized pieces for clients?
MZ: It was kind of an accident. I had an idea for a dining table I wanted to make for myself out of an old 1950s drafting table. I dragged that thing around for 3 yrs until I finally built it. When I did, lots of people were really interested in it. I then made a bench for it and things took off from there
PLB: What are you favourite pieces to create?
MZ: I love making dining tables. There’s so much emotion with these pieces. It’s a place families gather for Christmas, thanksgiving, and birthday dinners. They’re one of the few pieces that get handed down through a family. I still remember my grandmas table from Christmas dinner when I was 5. We ate, argued, told stories, and played games on it.
PLB: What kind of materials do you work with and why?
MZ: I work with all types of hard wood and like to balance it with metal. I have a modern style and while I like rustic, I don’t want it to become woodsy and cottagy. The warmth of wood is important but it has to be modern, so that’s where the metal comes in.
PLB: Where do you find most of your inspiration?
MZ: My inspiration comes from architecture; that’s my background. I love mid century design. Minimalistic and simple. It allows the materials to speak for themselves. Often the simpler a piece looks, the more complex it actually was to build it.
PLB: How long do your pieces take to create?
MZ: A week to a month, depending on the size and complexity.
**Ok, back to it….**
PLB: To date, what is your favorite piece that you have dreamed up?
MZ: Right now it’s in the works! It’s a dining table that uses 3″x5″ tongue and groove pieces of Douglas fir from a torn down warehouse in downtown (
right here in our very own) wpg. The building was a 100 yrs old and the wood was atleast a 75yrs old when it was cut down. It looks amazing in my head and a piece of me will die when I sell it and have to part with it.
PLB: What type of piece have you yet to make or are hoping to have a shot at soon if requested?
MZ: I have yet to make a large, live edge, walnut table with bow tie details in it. It’s difficult finding large slabs like that and therefore quite expensive.
PLB: If you didn’t deal with design and create furniture, what would you do in your days?
MZ: Haha I don’t know! Design is such an integral part of who I am as a person. I guess I’d just have to be a professional athlete then.
PLB: What else would you like to share with us:
MZ: Like many people, I too have ikea furniture. But the most important pieces, the ones I touch with my hands, serve off of, and have discussions around, those are handmade and have a special purpose.
You can find these unique pieces handmade by Mark through MZ Studios
. Right here in Winnipeg.
Local, local, local.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PIECES…
This custom cutting board
is 11″x16″ with a 5″ handle, each one he crafts will vary. It is made from walnut & maple and for $95 would be a gorgeous gift – I will tell you, with wedding & baby showers coming up this spring, last fall must have been a cold one 😉 These would make gorgeous antipasto platters, a dessert tray, in my mind, it is for much more than chopping on. Also, they are all finished with food safe mineral oil. The best part, no one else will have the same one.
Give MZ Studios a little eye love at his site, instagram or facebook! Of course this works too:
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ~ 204.996.2630