Each of his creations might be the centerpiece of a room or could serve as an accent. Either way, they seem destined to be conversation pieces. One fall-front cabinet masquerades as an aquarium. A coffee table offers marquetry magazines. A lectern is fronted with faces, and a cabinet intended to house a collection of baseball memorabilia is decked out with—what else?—a baseball and mitt. Says Kopf, “I want to make marquetry modern.”
That wasn’t his original goal. Kopf graduated from Princeton University with a degree in architecture. But this was in the ’70s. Kopf let his hair grow long, and instead of designing buildings, he decided to seek a future in woodworking. “My parents were mortified,” he says genially. (In unrelated developments, his parents came to approve, and he has long since shorn his hair.)
The woodworking world wasn’t welcoming either. Attracted by the art nouveau furniture of Richard Newman, Kopf went to see him, hoping for a job. Instead, Newman suggested that he seek an apprenticeship with Castle. So, Kopf says, “I called him and said I’d do anything.” Castle, seeing no woodworking skills on Kopf’s résumé, turned him down. Undeterred, Kopf took a low-level job at a woodworking shop outside Rochester, New York, not far from Castle’s studio, and phoned Castle every three months to tell him what he was learning. “After about a year, Wendell had an opening,” Kopf recalls. Nowadays, Castle calls Kopf “a natural,” and the two remain in contact.
Shown above is the “Floral Vase” cabinet. See details on the following slide.