When Jeff Smith and Shayn Smith met in 2014, they discovered they had more than a surname in common. Over the following year, the two highly skilled woodworking artisans collaborated on several projects and found they shared a similar passion for their craft. It seemed a natural next step to combine their talents by launching their fine woodworking company, SmithMade.
With a mix of nationwide residential and corporate clients, the Shelby Township-based business offers luxury custom flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and decorative surfaces. SmithMade’s unique specialty is custom veneer designs — an art form known as marquetry. Among their many upscale projects, they’ve created artful staircases, fireplace surrounds, and wall panels, as well as intricate patterned wood flooring. They recently expanded their offerings with more commodity veneered panels for use by high-end cabinet and furniture makers.
“We often work in partnership with other companies or designers and the client,” Shayn says. “We get to know the clients as individuals and find out what really matters or is interesting to them, so we can bring it into the design.”
Adds Jeff: “Whatever a client can imagine, we can create. We like challenges. We take the time, do the research, and feed off each other. It’s important to be open to what’s possible (so we can) create meaningful pieces. We (make) 3-D drawings to give the client a clear description of the project, but we want the finished product to be even better and have a connection.”
Their designs range from refined rustic to sleek modern, and the partners work with a variety of domestic and exotic woods including walnut burl, hickory, and African wenge. Depending on the vision for a project, it might incorporate different luxurious elements such as leather, jade, abalone, or sterling silver. Many of SmithMade’s exclusive furniture pieces will become family heirlooms.
“I enjoy designing specific things for specific people, and the artistic freedom that comes with each project,” Shayn explains. “I love working with different materials. In custom work, it’s always the little details that make it special.”
SmithMade recently completed a multi-room residential project in Oakland Township. The duo’s artistry is on full display in the powder room, where a fumed eucalyptus wood wall featuring a spiral pattern carries over into a coordinating vanity, resulting in a stunningly seamless design flow.
The partners have worked on many memorable commercial projects, including the creation of statement tabletops for The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In a collaboration with Detroit-based design studio Pophouse, the artists fashioned distinctive wood panels for the Compuware Building in Detroit. SmithMade has also produced custom woodwork for luxury yachts and private planes — which, according to the partners, requires very precise specifications, ultralight panels, and special adhesives.
Jeff and Shayn reveal that time is their biggest challenge in producing pieces that meet their high standard of craftsmanship. While the pair regularly collaborates and works in partnership with other companies, SmithMade is solely the work of the two Smiths, who design, engineer, build, and sometimes install projects.
“(We get a sense of) satisfaction from (giving) the client a one-of-a-kind piece with a meaningful story as a legacy. It’s something that will be in their family for generations to come,” Jeff says.
More information: smith-made.com
Text by Tracy Donohue & portrait by Mike Bartello