An eye and a hand only found in Oregon
Tyler Cunningham looks at his family history with immense pride. He admires both his father and grandfather – the senior having built a life and career out of virtually nothing. He came from a rough background, put himself through college, married and became a father, supported them and encouraged all his children in a way that Tyler’s own father now imitates in his support of his son. Tyler feels a strong connection to heritage. To family. To a life that honors the past.
Oregon is famously recognized for its plethora of craftsmen and preservation artisans. The talent that is shared in the careful handling and conservation of natural products such as wood or stone is appreciated and valued throughout the state. When Amity Flats was reimagined, Barbara Bond and Rob Kistler, the owners, knew that they wanted the history,the spirit and the life of the walls of the old building restored as much as possible. They wanted to honor the building’s past and Amity itself. And that’s how Tyler connected to Amity Flats.
Co-owner, along with his father and his brother, of Schooner Creek Designs in Lincoln City, a short drive from Amity to the coast, Tyler offers a unique family history of hand craftsmanship and a heart for learning the traditional ways of building, construction and woodworking and applying them in his work today.
“We have a hand-crafted mentality in my family. If it broke, we either fixed it or rebuilt it. My father is a wood worker by hobby. My grandfather – an engineer. My father also worked with casting iron, and I learned to weld and woodwork at a very young age. And, I learned carpentry from my father. I work very hard at pushing myself to be the best craftsman and designer that I can be.”
Tyler built the beds that are now housed in Amity Flats, and he did so with reconstructed wood from the original property. But the beds have an additional interest. He constructed them using a Japanese approach that would have been used during the days of the Flat’s heyday. They are made without traditional hardware.
“I have a passion to go deeper and push my ability. My first projects were simple, and I wanted to learn more. I fell in love with Japanese woodworking in which we use no hardware, but pressure-fit joinery- piecing together the product like a jigsaw puzzle. This technique makes furniture that will last longer, and the final product is more impressive to me. It is worth it for me to go all the way out. To make things as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing.”
Tyler’s adult life began on the coast where he surfed and worked with a shop in Web and graphic design. In time, the business closed, but he had started to build another kind of portfolio. In his spare time he had constructed the furniture used by a friend in a coastal coffee shop. Unbeknownst to him, that shop became his first studio showcase. It ballooned to selling pieces on Etsy. And now, opening his own business in 2014, he specializes in heritage builds for restaurants, hotels and other businesses. You can even see the Tyler touch in some of restoration in The Bramble, the tasting room located on the first floor of Amity Flats.
Because of his unique and very special focus on heritage, Tyler encourages all visitors to the area to look at the region with a different eye, “Take a step back in time and realize the history of the building you are in – Amity Flats and others. Realize that here, you really can plug into the environment. Think about it – the bricks you touch were laid by hand by real people in our past. It is so important to realize that history and significance and the uniqueness of every location.”
That heritage and craftsmanship is found all around Yamhill County and through to the coast and is just waiting to be discovered. Again.
Schooner Creek Designs