Monday

Welcome!

I'm Chris Hall and I make joined structures. My company is called Azuma Design/Build, azuma being a Japanese word meaning Eastern. I'm based in Western Massachusetts and serve clients all over the country. Thanks for your visit!

Just like the name says, I design and build  - specifically, wooden structures connected with all-wood joinery methods. I do not use veneers, particle board, plastic, toxic finishes, or factory production techniques. I do not rely upon glue to hold things together - solid wood joinery has proven the test of time. Everything I do is one-off custom or of very limited run, and is built for the express needs of each client. My technical core is that of Japanese traditional carpentry practice, though of late I have made considerable study of French 19th century carpentry as well to expand my repertoire. Ming Dynasty Classical Chinese furniture is also a strong influence upon my work.

I build furniture, along with small and large buildings, and can create complete integrated interiors as well. I undertake residential, commercial, and museum work. References available upon request to interested clients.

Take a look at some of the pieces on this page, a sample of some of my work, and if any happen to catch your eye, please click on the relevant links to learn more about how each piece was made.

 Ming-Inspired Dining Table.

A piece based on a Ming Dynasty side table, the original constructed circa 1586 and featured in The Journal of Chinese Classical Furniture. Features a unique frame and panel system with no metal fasteners or adhesives employed. Constructed of bubinga, an African hardwood and designed to last, like the original, for hundred of years.

This table is built to seat eight diners, and is about 8' (2.43m) in length and 40" in width.  Hand rubbed oil/varnish finish.


Here's a view of the underside of the table:


A view from the narrow end of the table:


To learn more about the design and construction of this piece, please visit my other blog, where the build is detailed over 50 posts. Here's the first post: Ming Inspiration

Bell Tower (Shōrō).

A tower I spent a couple of months designing for a client in California. While it does not look like this project will go ahead, I derived great satisfaction from being able to manage the design phase for one of the most complex types of traditional Japanese temple structures. The roof is of the irimoya (hipped gable) type, with traditional minoko (gable verge rollover), all clad in copper shingles. The structure is designed for a 3000-lb. bell.

Side elevation view

The view of the underside of the roof showing the fanning rafters
front elevation view
A cut-away view revealing some of the interior structure
 

Step Tansu (Kaidan-dansu). 

This piece, traditional in function and overall form, is made in solid 3/4" thick Bubinga, with fully dovetailed construction, frame and panel doors, and Japanese hardware. This storage cabinet, comprised of three interlocked units, was made to serve the client's particular needs and to fit the configuration of the wall and window behind it. The plinth below the cabinet is also custom fabricated and employs Japanese twisted dovetail corner connections, to provide a seamless integration of the piece with the existing room's Douglas Fir edgegrain baseboards.

To learn more about the kaidan-dansu, please click here. Available in a variety of materials and configurations to suit every situation. Small to large, mild to wild.

Reception Desk.

This large (6' x 9') desk was built for a busy doctor's office  and is made of Honduran Mahogany with Eastern Maple tabletops and grillwork. Composed of some 288 pieces, all connected without use of any metal fasteners or glue. Assembly of the desk in situ took three days.


To view more photos showing the assembly of this desk, including details of its many type of Japanese joints, please click here.

Mahogany Chairs.

While chairs lend themselves well to factory production methods, due to the large number of templates  and repetitive cuts required, people come in all sorts of different physical proportions, and my chairs are built with that in mind. This run of seven chairs, some with armrests, some without, are framed in Honduran Mahogany. The back splats are made of Pacific Yew, a very resilient wood often chosen for archery bows, and this wood allows the splats to flex and conform to the sitter's spine.

 


The chairs feature much exposed joinery, and the critical portions are designed to be extremely strong for the duration while not burdening the owner with an overly-heavy chair. To read more, please click here.


Shrine Lantern.

This form of free-standing garden lantern has long been a favorite of mine. I spent three months crafting this piece, which has some 185 pieces, all connected purely with joinery. Provision is made for electrical wiring, which is fully concealed inside the piece. Made of Honduran Mahogany, with Bloodwood and Lignum Vitae keys and pegs.


Notice that the post of the lantern is cut to fit against the boulder exactly. This boulder in turn would be attached to a concrete foundation upon installation. Many variations upon this theme are possible. to learn more, please click here.

Vanity.

This small cabinet is made primarily of Claro Walnut and Black Walnut, though the tabletop panel is East Indian Rosewood. Japanese joinery throughout, with Japanese hardware on the doors. The interior floor of the cabinet is in Yellow Cedar, which repels pests. As with all my pieces, hand-planed and hand-scraped.


To see some photos of the build process for this piece, please click here.

I construct solid wood joined structures of all sizes and shapes, from furniture to specialized complex roof work and stair fabrication. If you want a beautiful addition to your world, designed and built just for you, in real, solid wood and constructed with the highest care and attention (to details you may never see), pieces really intended to last for centuries, please contact me. That's what I do. No corners are cut, and no disappointed clients ever!