Robert & Tor Erickson
Our story starts with a young man from Nebraska who decided he didn’t want to be a dentist after all and hitchhiked west to follow his dream of building furniture by hand. On arriving in California Robert Erickson met renowned poet Gary Snyder who invited the Nebraskan to spend a summer helping him build a house in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Inflamed with idealism at the end of the project, Robert and other young, talented members of Snyder’s construction crew banded together to buy a large neighboring parcel. In 1973, Erickson built the first structure on the land: a woodshop that he has worked in ever since. Over the next four decades, he and his land partners have built their houses, families and lives on the piece of land they still share.
In 1978, Robert married Liese Greensfelder and a year later they had their only child. Tor grew up in and around the woodshop; the smell of walnut sawdust was the bouquet of his childhood. Robert taught his boy to work the tools in the shop; to
understand the difference between the wood of bigleaf maple and madrone; how to mill a log with a two-man chainsaw mill. Tor left for college, lived in the Pacific Northwest, worked in Africa, but he always came back to help his father in the shop. In 2014 Tor became a full partner in the business with his parents.
Today Erickson Woodworking builds some 75 pieces of furniture a year, mostly chairs and tables. Our work is represented in various collections, including the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. We still build every piece by hand, one piece at a time, just like Robert did more than 40 years ago. We believe in craft, in investing everything in our work. We believe in service, not only to those who patronize our work, but also to our community, our employees, and to the woods and mountains around us. We believe in beauty, in a fair curve and in perfect proportions.