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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2018

Turning Wood into Art: Robert Sproll

This spiral staircase by Robert Sproll demonstrates his proficiency in the engineering of hand-bent wood.
This spiral staircase by Robert Sproll demonstrates his proficiency in the engineering of hand-bent wood. "My goal on this project was to create the lightest-looking modern spiral staircase possible, yet equal in strength to a heavily-constructed spiral wood staircase."
Additional photos below »

'Artisan Woodworking'

By ANGELA WAMPLER | A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS | April 27, 2010

Robert Sproll grew up in New York and now lives in Bluff City, Tenn. The family business was furniture making, and at the age of 13, he was sent to Munich, Germany, to start his woodworking apprenticeship.

At the time, shortly after World War II, "I was the only American kid studying in Munich's trade school," he recalls. "So I was determined to make a good showing of my American heritage by excelling in all of my studies. I graduated one of the top three with honors. I later went to Bern, Switzerland, to earn my degree as a master cabinetmaker. Upon completion, I was asked to take over the family church furniture business in New York."

Sproll later owned a consulting business, which brought him to Northeast Tennessee. He fell in love with the area and moved here nearly 10 years ago.

His repertoire ranges from antique furniture reproductions to ultra-modern designs, as free-standing or built-in pieces. Sproll has the expertise to recreate most antique windows, doors and moldings. For experimental purposes, he provides architects, designers and artists with rough mock-ups for applications. He has continued to design and craft custom furniture for individuals and companies, as well as creating contemporary furniture for his own home: a formal dining room, two bedroom suites, an entertainment center, and more.

"Although I have worked with other media," Sproll says, "for me, wood creates a warm and friendly environment or atmosphere, and it has no overall equal, whether in looks, cellular structure, versatility and, to some degree, recyclability. Because it is a natural product, it can be very challenging from an engineering standpoint, especially when one has the tendency to take a design to the extreme and to fully enhance Mother Nature's product — which I love to do."

Sproll continues, "My satisfaction never came from the day-to-day building of custom furniture but from the desire to create eye-opening pieces that are mostly modern in design and technically advanced. Couple this with the pure joy of sharing with appreciative clients the excitement of exotic woods, either in their natural state or stain-enhanced, with befitting finishes and overall design execution. Regardless of a person's taste, my goal has always been to make my furniture worthy of a second look, or to be controversial. For me, the highest compliment is when someone considers my creations as distinctive."

THERE'S MORE:
Harte Carves His Niche in Furniture


Topics: Crafts



Bench created by Sproll.


A dining table


Sproll's repertoire ranges from antique furniture reproductions to ultra-modern designs, including contemporary furniture for his own home.


Another view of the dining table