I am always trying to incorporate beautiful and locally handmade pieces into my designs. And when I started the designs for a new construction project in Cardiff, I knew that my friend David Norgard’s work would bring the perfect mid-century touch! I recently sat down with David, owner of Alibi Woodworks, to learn more about the inspiration behind his custom mid-century furniture, his process, and what fun projects he’s got up his sleeves.
What inspired you to start crafting Danish modern style benches?
My Danish Cord Benches, like all of my woodworking come from two places really. The first is my Dad. Growing up, I watched my dad make his own tools to finish a job instead of going out to buy one. That left a big impression on me about not buying into the disposable lifestyle and being the kind of person who can make things with my own hands. The second part of inspiration comes from the history of furniture design. Danish Modern in particular tends to be very pulled back and minimal but not austere. The Danish Cord for instance is an unbleached paper product that is twisted into three strands. It feels warm and invites you to touch it, but is still rather demure. I am attracted to this warm minimalism.
Tell us about your process.
I am a big believer in putting ideas on paper and exploring the creative process. I sketch out everything I make before I make it. For me, this is really the best way to explore form, scale and proportion and to think about joinery. I will often make prototypes based on sketches to prove my concepts. When I get into production and have a question or design change I will go back and annotate my sketches for the next build.
We recently used your mid-century bench in one of our designs. Do you enjoy the wood-working or the weaving more in the build process?
Good question! I need them both to finish a bench so I appreciate them both in different ways. I love the woodworking part because it is so immersive; you are only doing that one thing. It is also my intellectual property in a way. The weaving is quiet and there is a rhythm to it. It is enjoyable in a totally different way.
You live in a mid-century modern home. What are your favorite areas and/or details about your home?
We got lucky to find an original mid-century modern home here in Cardiff by the Sea. The house had suffered through many years of neglect and was in sad shape when we bought it. I have been restoring it for 5 years so there are many parts of the house that feel like “mine.” That said, there are two things I really love about this home. The first is the windows in the family room. We have this cool glass to glass corner that makes the whole room feel large and warm. My other favorite is the backyard. Since I am also a landscape architect I see the outdoors as an extension of the interior of the home. We tricked it out with a fire pit, dining area, vegetable garden, hammock and of course trees. We end up hanging there to relax and talk about our day almost every evening.
What is the story behind your company name?
I alluded to this above, but when you are woodworking you are not multi-tasking, or phone timing, or any of the other modern demands for our time. Your head has to be in it all the way or you could ruin a piece or worse, get hurt. Alibi Woodworks is my alibi for my time away from it all.
When people order pieces from you, what do you want them to know?
I make each piece one at a time, by hand. From selecting the very best wood and matching the grain to cutting timeless joinery, I see a story in every piece of wood that goes into my furniture. My hope is that the new owners will see that story, too.
What’s in the works for your next project?
My next order is going to be pretty special. I will be making a matched set of bedside tables and an extra-long Danish Cord Bench for the end of the bed. The tables will each have one drawer and a lower shelf of woven Danish Cord. The tables will also feature a waterfall edge, which is where the grain wraps seamlessly around all 3 visible sides. All three pieces will be made from quarter sawn white oak which is a beautiful, timeless American hardwood.
David Norgard is the owner and artisan behind Alibi Woodworks – a small custom furniture shop specializing in mid century modern inspired design. David makes each piece of custom furniture by hand and from solid domestically grown hardwoods. He also strives to incorporate FSC and sustainably harvested lumber whenever it is available.