Prologue: Knowledge and understanding of the building process - from design to fabrication - will allow you to make appropriate choices and selection when time will come to renovate your own space. Avoid common misconceptions and industry myths that lead you to spend more money that you need to.
Chapter 1 - Private Passion: Quality and Craftsmanship, how it started.
I wasn't that young man - I didn't know what I wanted 'to do for the rest of my life'. I did not come from privilege and I had to work hard to pay off my student loans when I dropped out of university; I wanted to be an engineer. It was a career that both my parents and my grandma supported. My parents because as fresh-2-Canada immigrants - I'm naturalized Canadian myself - they saw this as a meal ticket to a 'better life'. My grandma of course was completely enamoured with the 'White Collar' and 'bossing others around'.
Once a young man drops out of school where is he to get a job but a construction site, huh?
There were other options, of course, but the idea of spending excessive amounts sitting in front of a computer screen which I already did while taking computer programming courses [Java.....Java in 28 days.....Java in 7 days ..... Java in 24 hours....hahaha] did not entice me and I preferred jobs where I was not static.
For first few years I cycled thru the 'entire ecosystem of woodworking' - framing, carpentry, trim-carpentry and hardwood flooring. It was with hardwood flooring that I really discovered that I enjoyed 'wood as a medium' - I was able to construct practical structures that gave people shelter, provided comfort, created delight and sparked joy. In some ways it's quite intoxicating and you get a rush when you hand that final result to the client - they love it... they can't get enough.
By that time I already had a collection of woodworking tools and I topped it when I bought myself an older Dodge RAM 350 van. It was a short, stocky, heavy duty grey thing with an emergency light on top - a BELL Canada van.... To this day I get a small chuckle when I write how I do 'emergency flooring' on my Instagram posts - I do occasionally do floors, mainly really nice Moncer installs, where every board matters, or I floor for friends.
As an independent contractor I worked for most reputable companies in the GTA [I always say that no.1 company in the GTA is Darmaga Hardwood Flooring for a reason] and my projects took me to some of the most prestigious locations in Toronto. I floored for the rich, famous and influential. I worked on projects where the word 'budget' did not exist. I worked in the presence of privately owned Picasso - and a pretty big one too! Not one of those little scribbles....!
Did you know that you can turn any wood into flooring? That's right - everything from exotics to reclaimed lumber....
My wife suggested that since I enjoy wood and woodworking so much that I should further my education in 'that department'. After looking into various post secondary programs I settled on Crafts and Design program from Sheridan College: Furniture Design. ~that was a wild ride~
I went into the program already quite skilled in technical aspects of woodworking and my focus was more on the ~design aspect~: exploring materials and forms and putting it all in the historical perceptive. My education enabled me to contextualize and compartmentalize many of the projects I worked on in the past - I began to see decisions making process behind the choices. I began to understand - it was like 'fabrication' + 'humanity'.
While at school I got a scholarship to spend my summer at Nienkamper - that's like an equivalent of Herman Miller but in Canada. I spent my days working on the floor of manufacturing plant that produced objects of impeccable quality that would be shipped all over the world. I got to upholster the base of the first ever Cloud Chair [google that beast] by Karim Rashid - it was prototyped that summer there, by a visiting German craftsman.