The fine art of custom furniture

Chicago-born sculptor John Strauss is making a big statement right here in Stark County — one piece of custom furniture at a time.

Chicago-born sculptor John Strauss is making a big statement right here in Stark County — one piece of custom furniture at a time.

Inside a plain, one-story, red-brick building on Canton’s southeast side, in a neighborhood dotted with boarded up houses and urban decay, John Strauss creates furnishings for the elite.

His business sign on Fourth Street SE is equally understated — John Strauss, LLC, Furniture Maker.

Inside, though, it’s a different story.

His workplace is part woodshop, part art studio.

Enveloped in the smell of sawdust and lacquer, to the sound of buzzing and grinding power tools, the 49-year-old, Ivy League-educated Strauss designs and makes everything from pedestals to entertainment centers, but not the kind you’ll find at a wholesale outlet store.

“Nothing is $49.99 here,” he said.

For example, his Mabel pedestal — mahogany black-onblack crackle lacquer with silver leafing or cream crackle with gold leafing — runs $735. His Savoy entertainment center of lacewood with a mahogany interior and hand-carved, fluted mahogany columns, pocket doors and a TV pull-out runs $9,800.

His customers?

“Definitely high-end urban,” he said.

Born in Chicago, Strauss trained as a sculptor. His undergraduate degree is from Brown University. He also has a master’s of fine arts degree from City University of New York. He moved to New York at one point for a fellowship with the Whitney Museum independent- study program.

In New York, he studied under fine-furniture maker Gabriel Giutini, learning craftsmanship and handtool techniques.

It’s a good thing. The world already has its share of starving artists. With a wife and three children at home (two stepchildren are grown), Strauss’ livelihood is furniture.

Craft runs in the family.

His great-aunt, Mabel Chamberg, designed the “House of Tomorrow” at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

His first furniture design line was named after her. His father owned a high-end furniture showroom in downtown Chicago and his mother is an interior designer.

He markets his work, inspired by Art Deco masters, at trade shows and with interior designers from all over the country.

Aside from lines he designed himself, sold primarily at a shop in Florida and another in Chicago, Strauss makes custom pieces. To view his work, pricing or to learn more, visit www.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass