Black History Month Spotlight: Designer, JD HARRISON

As the owner of CR8 (pronounced “crate”) Design Studios based in Greenville, South Carolina, JD Harrison brings the full measure of his talent to designing business interiors, retail establishments, restaurants and corporate offices. In addition, the custom furniture he creates from trees native to the South stuns with its sophisticated simplicity.

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BELLA spoke to this creative soul about his craft and what it involves.

How did you get started in working with wood?

After eight years at an architectural firm, and three years as a high-end residential home designer, working on 25,000 square foot properties, I was starting to feel burned out and at a professional crossroads. I took a two-month break to hike the Appalachian Trail and about 750 miles in, around Virginia, I had an epiphany as I traveled different landscapes along the way. That deep connection with nature made me reassess the value of why and how I work. Then, in 2010, a client asked me to design a desk and when I discovered the trees came from a plantation, that project took on a whole new meaning and resonated deeply with me. I continue to create work that comes from my heart, and I now do commissions nationwide.

What messages do your wood furniture pieces send?

 Every piece is different, as well as the intentionality behind them – from the design, to the materials, to the processing of the materials, to the finishes used, all combine to produce a piece of extremely high quality. I make handcrafted, heirloom pieces. I really want people to see the thoughtfulness that goes into handmade things, the respect to the land, and the long-lasting beauty of what nature does. There is a storytelling component to each element of my work. I’m just a hand, visually and physically interpreting a story for a client by adding my artist’s perspective, whether it’s for furniture or architecture.

Give us the best advice to consider when we are selecting furniture.

 The materials are key, and the methods behind the construction are also important, as are the subtle details and the type of finishes. I try to be as sustainable as possible with the materials I choose that go into construction, as they all affect the environment…everything from the types of glues, to the woods, to the finishes on top. I would say go for more natural things, like natural oil finishes and environmentally friendly products involved in the making of the piece. Remember, these are in our homes and can affect us if they give off allergens or poisonous fumes that are often present in glues or polyurethanes. It’s more important now than ever, since we are all in homes much more often these days.

To learn more about J.D. Harrison, please visit: Instagram:@cr8_designstudios

Photography by Mike Belleme


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