“If we wouldn’t want it in our own homes, then we go back to the drawing board.” - Jared Williams
Jared Williams, a Boerne native, and Catherine Emil, from New York, have been named Vermont’s Emerging Woodworkers of the Year by the Vermont Forest Industry Network.
Neither planned to stay in Vermont after graduation, but “felt it was impossible to leave ... in a good way.” After completing a four-semester immersion program at Vermont Woodworking School, the two friends intended to part ways, returning to their respective homes in Boerne and New York. As they considered their newly acquired skills and compatibility as business partners, however, the idea of founding their own furniture-making shop began to take hold.
Now they “At that point, we looked at the incubator space available at the school, which includes access to tools and machinery that would have been prohibitively expensive, as well as to our teachers and mentors, and the idea of trying to establish a start-up anywhere else seemed crazy,” said Emil, co-founder of Towards Nightfall. “Vermont had everything we needed,” agreed Williams.
The pair were recently awarded Vermont’s 2018 Emerging Woodworker of the Year Award from the Vermont Wood Works Council. They founded Toward Nightfall with the idea of using their skills and knowledge to push the boundaries of how lightweight and ethereal wood furniture can be.
“Vermont Woodworking School provided a deep understanding of materials and construction techniques, which allows us to design furniture that is super light and elegant,” said Catherine.
Their first pieces included mainly tables and chairs made for high-end customers looking for a modern, contemporary aesthetic, and the company is already gaining a reputation for its use of color and unconventional materials.
“Catherine and Jared’s enthusiasm to work and stay in Vermont demonstrates so much positivity to the next generation of wood craftspeople in our state,” said Erin Lorentz, Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Works Council, “and their work is exceptional.”
Finding their Niche
On the naming of the business, Catherine refers to a Mark Rothko quote: “Often, towards nightfall, there’s a feeling in the air of mystery, threat, frustration - all of these at once. I would like my paintings to have the quality of such moments.” “We love what this quote says about our creative process,” said Catherine, “and, in a more literal sense, the idea that you enjoy furniture at the end of the day, towards nightfall, when you return home.”
Both Jared and Catherine point to the Lil Sporty Dining Table, a crossover ping-pong and dinner table made from mahogany with a malachite inlay, as one of their favorite pieces. “It has an old-school, Royal Tenenbaum vibe,” said Catherine. “The client wanted a dining table that could convert to a ping pong table after dinner, and we came up with the idea of using a stone inlay to make the boundary lines.”
Jared also points to the use of brass stretchers in the Nocturne Dining Table and a Danish cord shelf on the Dundee 3 Side Table. “It’s the inclusion of different types of materials and colors that differentiate our work,” he said.
“If we wouldn’t want it in our own homes, then we go back to the drawing board.” In the meantime, the pair will continue to grow their commercial and residential portfolio from the incubator space at the Vermont Woodworking School where they are working on a set of “colorful” tables. To see examples of their current work, visit www.towardsnightfall.com.