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Honing a Niche

Mike Parker and Ann Cowperthwaite of Eidolon Designs have built their name by focussing on the small things like fine craftsmanship, custom details and approaching each new project with a problem solver’s mentality. Their team prides themselves on finesse and overcoming every unexpected issue to help bring creative visions to life.

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MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE
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What inspired your career choice?

MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE

When we began in 1984 we saw a great need for better workmanship and we had the desire to work independently and to maintain responsibility for fine craftsmanship. We knew we would need to rise to the constant challenges of refining our craft of custom design and fabrication, and we were ready to do so.

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When did you first know this was for you?

MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE

It was not a matter of “when” but a determined choice to independently hone a niche for making fine workmanship a priority. We also wanted to partner with other highly regarded professionals: architects, designers and contractors to define and accomplish their visions as well.

With custom work, there are always problems to be solved throughout the process, from beginning to end; some expected, more often than not, unexpected. Flexibility, agility and thinking outside the box are some of the requirements of a good custom shop. For each project we strive to overcome all unexpected issues with finesse, not excuses or by bluffing.

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How do you go about starting a new project?

MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE

The first consideration is always site conditions. We make sure the materials that are specified and/or used are suitable for the designed environment. All materials are sensitive to temperature, humidity, and use – including finishes. All of these elements must be taken into consideration in order to optimize the performance and life expectancy of each and every crafted product.

Next we consider longevity and stress factors. The inner mechanics of a structure defines the exterior repairability and sustainability of the piece or system. We constantly question “what are the limiting factors?” Many times we have to define compromises – environmental conditions beyond our control that must be accounted for and integrated into the structural engineering process. All mechanics must be engineered and integrated into the design context without interfering with the design itself (e.g. lighting and wire routing; heat and air flow; motion; mechanisms of opening, closing, raising, or lowering; balance and leveling; and tight architectural reveals.)

The key to artful presentation is successful integration of our work with other subcontractors’ work and requirements. Our services are all-inclusive and Eidolon is continually on site, thinking ahead and collaborating with electricians, plumbers, painters, tile contractors, architects, contractors and site superintendents to ensure the greatest degree of success with each and every project installation.

The art is in making it look easy – no matter what the complications are beneath the surface.

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What is one material you think is really underrated?

MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE

This is job dependent. Every project brings unique challenges and oftentimes combinations of diverse materials (e.g. hardwoods, sheet goods, solid surfaces, glass, steel, stone, lighting, etc.) and issues of ventilation need to be taken into consideration when using these different types of materials together.

We do find our use of light-weight engineered materials for large doors and drawer fronts is not the typical norm for other fabricators. Issues of sustainability and environmental impact are also a top priority of Eidolon Designs. For instance the use of waterborne finishes is a standard practice at Eidolon Designs while securing hardwoods harvested from sustainable forests and incorporating alternative surface materials such as Forbo Linoleum, adds to our mission of crafting better and more ecologically sound products for our clients as well as Mother Earth.

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Have you been experimenting with new forms in your practice?

MIKE PARKER + ANN COWPERTHWAITE

Custom craftsmanship demands constant experimentation. As we take on highly articulated projects often involving diverse materials, we have sought to create a solid network of specialized professionals in other areas of fine craft including: metalwork, concrete, glass, machining, stone, finishes and more. The breadth of knowledge these people offer is not only of old-world techniques but also techniques meeting the most modern of applications. In the end Eidolon engineers, specifies, and collaborates with these fine makers in order to shape and realize the vision of each and every project.

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