Mark Luedeman’s tendency to see the value of waste has served him well during this pandemic year.
As a high-end furniture designer whose clients suddenly found themselves with time to focus on their homes, the Beacon resident had a lot of work to do but “problems getting it all done.” Some of my suppliers couldn’t deliver the materials, and many of my clients’ buildings wouldn’t allow us in, so I couldn’t deliver.
Luedeman began to create smaller items with the materials available in his shop, such as mosaic trays and a line of lamps. “The limits can be good,” he says. “We have to find new markets. The last year has been a very creative time for me.
The change in leadership has been a hallmark of Luedeman’s career. While studying biology at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, he developed an interest in plant physiology. He also taught himself black and white photography and created an independent study project on the chemistry and physics of photography.
He moved to New York after a work-study program placed him with a theater and dance photographer there. After four years as a freelance assistant to professional photographers, he said he “walked away, watching the photographer talking to the client and thinking, ‘I want to be the one taking the pictures.’ “
It was during an economic downturn, however, with thousands of photographers looking for work. So instead, Luedeman started building sets and props for use by advertising and marketing companies and catalogs.
“I built their prototypes, which ranged from small items used by a model to creating the back of a boat for a shoot,” he says. “For the first two years you are afraid of not paying the rent. You just keep meeting people; stylists introduce you to showroom owners. It allowed me to be a good problem solver – to use my imagination. “
Luedeman’s career changed again when he was introduced to a client who wanted themed furniture built for his 2 year old son. This led to presentations to interior designers, and he started building for showrooms and private residences.
In 1999, Luedeman got married, and a few years later, tired of “trucking his designs around town – it was a lot of fuss,” he and his wife moved to Beacon. “We wanted a garden, fresher air and a place with good driving roads into the city,” he explains. With a new studio space, Luedeman was able to spend time working on his own art.
The projects Luedeman undertook during this time were lucrative and rewarding in many ways, but they took their toll. “You walk away, go to bed at midnight, then you have to go into town the next morning,” he said. “After a few years it’s like – ‘but I just want to make furniture.’ When you say what you want, when you say it out loud, it happens. In this case, in less than two weeks, I found a job building 10 pieces of furniture for a client on Park Avenue. “
Over the past decade, Luedeman has continued to manufacture furniture and objects for his clients on both coasts. Most of his work goes through interior designers. It balances the controls with the creation of smaller parts.
His two favorite design periods are Art Nouveau, “for organic forms, especially glassware, ceramics, lamps” and Art Deco, because “it’s bold, it’s simple, and it works. with glossy finishes and repeats. ” In terms of process, Luedeman enjoys plating and determining its properties on surfaces.
Calling yourself “analytical” and “logical oriented,” says Luedeman, “when you start talking about curves, proportions, I haven’t followed any recipe. The proportion is supposed to come from the nucleus. Some customers know exactly what they want; others want an existing design “10 inches taller and in a different color.” Others just say “Find something”.
“I never get to bang my head with clients,” he says. “Some people are so awesome to know what they want. Some people want more of my contribution. Sometimes it’s good not to have a plan right away. “
Working in a studio two blocks from his home for 17 years, Luedeman knows he is in luck. “It’s a tough ride,” he jokes, “but in my case it’s because there’s no excuse not to go in. It allows me to work in the evening until midnight if I want to, to go home quietly. I see beauty everywhere and just want to share what I see. “