When Clare Fox and Wayne Maki first met in 2013, they knew they wanted to create something, they just weren’t sure what. A few months later, the Detroit natives discovered they didn’t need to look far beyond their backyard for inspiration.
After Fox unveiled an exhibition composed entirely out of locally salvaged materials, a light bulb went off. When it was time to break down the exhibition, the pair found it was too difficult to part with the leftover lumber. Instead, they saw an opportunity to create truly unique pieces. Thus, Fox and Maki’s experimental craft workshop, Mutual Adoration, was born.
As the name suggests, the studio was founded upon the duo’s appreciation for great design, their city and desire to collaborate. Today, the 3,000 square foot craft house not only builds “refined rustic” furniture, frames, housewares and custom goods, but specializes in transforming salvaged Motor City materials into works of art. Their one-of-a-kind wares are sold across the nation as well as on their online shop.
Learn more about Mutual Adoration from founders Clare Fox and Wayne Maki in our exclusive Modern Midwest Q&A.
MM: Tell us about yourselves. What’s your background?
Mutual Adoration: Clare was born and raised on the West side of Detroit and spent much of her childhood in Northern Michigan. After many years of travel and transience, including a few years in Mexico and Europe, Clare returned to Detroit to complete her BFA with a concentration in printmaking, at Wayne State University. To further her education and experience, she attended The Ohio State University’s MFA program. Driven to master both traditional and contemporary technologies, Clare works in experimental forms of photography, printmaking and sculpture. Clare’s eye for interior space and her intense love of color, pattern and texture guides the look of Mutual Adoration.
Wayne was born and raised on the East side of Detroit. After studying at Michigan State, the University of Oklahoma, and the College for Creative Studies, he has worked extensively in both artistic and commercial settings as a photographer. With a deep respect for material and a curiosity for technology and process, he is a skilled mechanic, woodworker, and craftsman. His eye for detail ensures that all of Mutual Adoration’s products exhibit the highest quality of design and function. When he is not working with wood or riding motorcycles, he is reading about wood or motorcycles.
MM: Mutual Adoration is often referred to as an “experimental craft workshop.” To you, what exactly does that mean?
MA: We’re always trying to evolve, in our designs and techniques. We do a lot of experimentation throughout our process, often breaking the rules of woodworking to achieve an end result. We also encourage our employees to experiment… with techniques, finishes and designs.
We’re always trying to evolve, in our designs and techniques. We do a lot of experimentation throughout our process, often breaking the rules of woodworking to achieve an end result.Mutual Adoration
MM: What’s your favorite medium to work with?
Wayne: I love working with reclaimed flooring. It’s usually beat up beyond recognition, covered with dust, varnish and the patina of years of use. Running it through the planer and watching it come back to life is one of my favorite moments.
Clare: Lately, I’ve loved working with marble. We recently got a lot of marble panels from a historically significant building here in Detroit, and are working on some prototypes for a new product. The combination of marble and wood is gorgeous, and we can’t wait to announce the new line.
MM: Why reclaimed materials? Where do you find your materials?
MA: Here in Detroit, we still have a lot of empty homes that are being torn down every week. We’re surrounded by a wealth of underutilized material that can either be reclaimed or thrown into a landfill. We try to put as much of this material to use as possible.
We find our materials in several different ways. We often harvest it ourselves, with a call from a homeowner that’s remodeling or tearing a home down. We also have relationships with contractors that do flooring or demolition.
MM: What’s your creative process like?
MA: For custom furniture, the process usually begins with a trip to our client’s home or business. We like to see the space we’re building for, to get a sense of their style and their personality. We then draw plans, submit to the client and start building. Unlike building with new lumber, we often base our designs on the material we have in stock, rather than purchasing lumber to fit our designs.
MM: Do you have a favorite project?
MA: Our Canfield Collection of trays is our current favorite. We build them in several sizes, and they’re the perfect multi-function item for everyone’s home. They’re used for serving meals, holding your keys, carrying cocktails, ottoman trays and as centerpieces. The sides are made from reclaimed hardwood flooring, the handles are salvaged from windows and the bottoms are dyed in dozens of colors. They are beautiful and functional, and can fit in anyone’s decor.
MM: What’s something new – or challenging – that you’re working on?
MA: We were recently hired by a company to provide prizes for a Super Bowl sweepstakes they’re running. We’re making pieces for five separate contests… a living room, a kitchen, a home office, outdoor living and a workshop. We’ll be working with the winners from all over the country, providing them custom made furniture and shipping it to their homes.
MM: What makes the Midwest, specifically Detroit, special?
MA: Detroit is a spectacular city. It’s a beautiful town, once called the “Paris of the Midwest.” Everyone knows about our history of manufacturing, but we also have such a rich history of art, architecture and music. It’s a city that is changing by the day, with new residents, investors, and businesses, but is still one of the great authentic American cities. It’s our hometown, and we love it.
[Detroit is] a city that is changing by the day, with new residents, investors, and businesses, but is still one of the great authentic American cities. It’s our hometown, and we love it.Mutual Adoration
MM: What are your long-term goals?
MA: We currently have 3 employees, and want to add to our crew. We look forward to expanding our network of retailers nationally, and to building lots more custom furniture for our clients, both locally and across the country.