For nearly 20 years, Willie Willette’s life has revolved around wood. He puts wood front and center when he designs beautiful pieces of furniture. He and his fellow woodworkers at Willie Willette Works in Minneapolis turn walnut, cherry and oak into one-of-a-kind conversation starters.
And yet, oddly enough, Willette’s life work is not about the wood. He says the joy comes not from the wood, but from the making of wonderful things.
“I like the term that people are using, ‘He’s a maker.’ I like it when that’s how people describe me,” Willette said. “They say, ‘Oh, you’re a carpenter.’ I’m like, ‘No, I make stuff.’”
Willette and his team of woodworkers ply their craft in a studio above a cupcake shop. Walking into Willie Willette Works, you immediately notice something unexpected — rows of books lining the walls. Willette is an avid book collector. He makes a point of finding a hardcover version of every book he’s ever read.
Willette is something of an open book himself. His candidness and sense of humor charm just about everyone. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. Example: He’s not above helping the owner of Cupcake Café (his downstairs neighbor) build a giant wooden float in the shape of a cupcake for an upcoming parade.
“I was always making something. Not necessarily woodworking, but I was always making something.”Willie Willette
It’s Willette’s eye for good design that keeps clients coming back for more. Willette creates each piece to meet a client’s specific needs – simple, clean lines if the project calls for it, or an item with more flourishes if need be. He loves working with natural materials, such as walnut, ash and elm. Many of his pieces are carefully crafted and finished to show off the wood’s natural beauty.