Black is Beautiful
Issue: Issue 271.5
Posted Date: 4/1/2011
"When I was young," the owner of
the eponymous Mark Roth Co. explained, "my mother always told me
beauty is only skin deep. It's what's inside, which you can't
see, that really matters. I took that to heart, and when I started
doing woodwork, I realized the same adage was valid there."
What does he mean by that? Simple. Mark
chooses the flashiest, most heavily figured woods, like zebrawood,
rosewood, cocobolo, and quilted maple, to fashion typical household
furniture. He makes some chairs, but mostly tables, bookcase and
various cabinets. What's different about his work is that he paints
all his pieces solid black.
"Granted," Mark admits, "you
can't see, or even know for sure that beneath your sleek black
table is an explosion of figured and colored wood, but that, to me,
is the real beauty of it. I know, and I trust my customers know, that
the real beauty of the piece is hidden, but nevertheless there. You
and guests to your home may see only the simple black lines of a
table, but you'll know the true beauty that lies within.
"For each piece I make, I spare no
expense in acquiring and choosing the most dramatic and well matched
pieces of gorgeous wood. I build solid furniture with simple lines
using traditional joinery. Once it is done and sanded, I paint it
"The thrill I feel once the paint
goes on is a combination of typical pride and that giddy rush of
knowing a secret. It's almost a religious experience. Looking at a
finished piece is like seeing only a thick quilt on a bed, but
knowing Elle Macpherson is sprawled naked beneath it."
Of course, I had to ask Mark if he ever
cheats a bit, using plain wood below the paint. "Absolutely not,"
he retorted somewhat angrily. "That would be a betrayal of both my
customers and myself. My business, like my work, is built on faith
and trust; there are just some things you must believe without ever
being able to see them."