The strength of being small

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Having designed and built hundreds of pieces of furniture, Bill Huston has developed an innate sense of proportion and dimension that runs throughout his work. A seasoned woodworker with 35 years of experience, Huston left Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers to start Huston and Co. and recently celebrated the shop’s 20th anniversary in Kennebunkport, Maine.

During the last two decades, Huston and Co. has catered to a wide range of customers, primarily in the New England region. Projects range in scope from a single coffee table or bedroom set for residential clients, to conference tables and library furnishings for commercial clients.

Early on, as a one-man shop, Huston focused strictly on designing and building one-of-a-kind custom furniture items. Over the years, he broadened his creativity by incorporating various style elements. The result is that Huston’s designs have evolved and have been shaped not by one period or style, but by many influences.

BILL HUSTON

Owner of: Huston & Co.
Location: Kennebunkport, Maine
Founded in: 1988
Previously with: Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers
Shop size: 4,800 sq. ft., including showroom and office
Employees: 5 full-time, 2 part-time
Products: Residential, corporate, institutional and academic hardwood furniture.

“In my work, there are elements of Scandinavian clarity and simplicity, of Shaker honesty of materials, of the ordered symmetry and linear comfort of the Arts and Crafts style, and the subtleness of Asian design. Rather than simply take these styles and mimic or reproduce them, I have felt them and then interpreted and evolved my own designs,” says Huston.

Going his own way
Growing up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Huston attended Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., before turning his attention to wood.

Huston began his woodworking career in 1972 at a furniture making school near Oslo, Norway. After returning to the U.S. and seeking to develop his skills, he met Thomas Moser in 1976 and began a 12-year connection. He helped Moser’s business grow from a workshop with four craftsmen to a national company with more than 100 employees. During that time, Huston built and designed furniture, developed production techniques, spent time as production manager, and later focused on design, prototypes and new product development at Moser’s shop in Auburn, Maine.

Huston’s detail-oriented character established his commitment at Moser’s through the mid-1980s. But by then Moser had grown to 125 employees and the production-type setting wasn’t a good fit.

“For me, the business had gotten too big. The core feeling was I missed the relationship with the customer because of the personal interaction and the sense that I was building a piece of furniture for that person. I also wanted to get back to doing more building on my own. I was doing more project management, office work and getting away from the woodworking.”