J.D. Harrison, owner of CR8 Design Studios (pronounced “crate”), loves wood. The environmental designer, who creates custom furnishings for residential and commercial projects, forms and shapes items that are as beautiful as they are functional.

After spending eight years post-college apprenticing at Greenville architecture firm Craig Gaulden Davis, he relocated to Charlotte and spent three years at a high-end residential design firm creating homes—some up to 25,000 square feet. But, he took a break to hike the Appalachian Trail, and 750 miles in, somewhere around Virginia, he had an epiphany. The connection with nature riveted him into working with wood.

In 2010, a client asked Harrison to build a desk. When J.D. discovered the trees originally came from a plantation, the project resonated deeply. He went on to design focal features and custom furniture for OOBE Apparel’s Greenville office, made Kitchen Sync restaurant’s bar, and designed and built key elements of Fortis Riders’ downtown headquarters. “I create a storyline for each individual client, and try to incorporate their brand message into the unique pieces I create. I find that more companies are trying to personalize their space to bring their branding to light on a physical level,” he states. Sourcing trees native to the South, like pine and oak, and collaborating with local metal workers, he always strives to be environmentally conscious about the materials he uses.

The newly reopened Center for Craft in Asheville commissioned him to create a monumental piece that would anchor their National Craft Innovation Hub co-working space. At thirty-three-and-a-half feet long and seven feet wide, it took six months to fashion a table made from birch plywood designed in an undulating, free-flowing form with a steel base. The concept was connection—to highlight the center’s past, present, and future—and to make a place where people could share ideas and inspiration, as well as work on projects in a collaborative environment. No doubt, everyone’s welcome to a seat at this table.

CR8 Design Studios. (864) 884-0655, cr8designstudios.com

Asheville’s Center for Craft is the only national nonprofit functioning as a catalyst for the scholarly research of things that are handmade. Its historic building, constructed in 1912, has been creatively renovated, and serves as a nexus to connect students, makers, collectors, entrepreneurs, academics, and the community. Containing public gallery spaces, a co-working location, workshops, classrooms, and lecture halls, the Center for Craft is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the professional development of craft.—RF centerforcraft.org