The Practical Intellect and Master-Apprenticeship
In 1968 I was accepted at Professor Carl Malmsten’s studio workshop for cabinet-making in Stockholm. I had behind me five years’ working experience and, naturally, thought that I had grasped the fundamentals of the furniture-making trade. For three of those years I had been apprenticed to a very fine factory which specialized in the construction of railway wagons with elegantly-appointed interiors. I was fascinated and entranced by the work, and each day was a new, exciting experience. The trade, it seemed, was one of immense complexity. At this particular workshop there were about 100 carpenters, all very skilled men — and a few who were very skilled indeed. Many of them continued to work after retirement and had many years of work experience behind them. In the years before they settled down some had spent time in Paris or in the wood-industrial district of Berlin (a complex of workshops, timberyards and industrial research institutes), or at the big factories in Chicago in the 1920s. Many had mastership proficiency, some having at some point worked on their own account. These men were treated with great respect by the master-carpenter.
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