Why Read ‘The Difference Makers’



STEINWAY FIBONACCI PIANO 7 by Frank Pollaro. Macassar ebony and bronze with inlaid synthetic ivory. 600,000th Limited Edition Steinway & Sons Fibonacci Piano

It might seem a bit out of character for Lost Art Press to publish “The Difference Makers” by Marc Adams. Unlike many of our titles, this book is filled with furniture that scratches at the stratosphere. These are pieces that you would see in a modern art museum or a gallery in Milan. And not the lineup of a publisher that wallows in the nitty gritty of historical handwork.

The way I see it, publishing “The Difference Makers” is just another way for us to challenge both ourselves and our readers.


Number One Chairs by Michael Fortune (photo by Michael Cullen)

And it begins with a confession: All too often I end up searching out furniture that looks somewhat like the furniture I now build. I focus on historical vernacular forms and their connection to 20th-century design. So the majority of the books in my library touch on those topics in one way or another.

It’s a lot like eating Southern food. Sure, you can survive on fried chicken, grits and collard greens for the rest of your days. But wouldn’t it be sad if you never had your mind blown by Ethiopian food?

No matter what sort of furniture you build, “The Difference Makers” is designed to shock your palate. It might be the negative space of Binh Pho, the textures created by Michael Hosaluk, the astonishing realism of Julie Bender or the visual trickery employed by Silas Kopf. You might not like all of it. But it will challenge you as a designer and builder. As we spent the last year editing this book I kept looking at the photos, wondering, “How was that built? And what possessed them? (In a good way).”

And that’s where the text of the book comes in. Marc knows all of these makers personally. They have taught for him at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. He’s watched these people work – sometimes over decades – and grow. These 30 people are the best who have passed through his school’s giant garage doors.

To package up all this beautiful work, we decided to challenge ourselves on the manufacturing and printing size. We wanted to create the most beautiful largest-format book possible without cracking the $100 mark. This took a bit of math – finding a paper with a roll size that would produce a minimum of waste and a maximum amount of surface for ink. We also wanted to push the boundaries on the paper. This book is made with a heavy and bright paper we’ve never used (or thought we could afford).

Then we added our normal high-quality binding, which we haven’t been able to improve on.

Why So Quiet?
We know that some of you might have been surprised to see the announcement of “The Difference Makers” with very little run-up to the launch. This was due to some chaos at our printing plant (three words: private equity takeover). As a result, we’ve been done with this book on our end for months but it wasn’t certain until late last week when it would go on press. And then we got the news: It would be shipped in mid-July.

We’ll be talking more about the book in the coming weeks. We’re all very excited to see it, and I know you’ll like it. We’ll release an excerpt in the coming weeks, but until then, take a look at these two short features from the book. One on Frank Pollaro and the other on David Franklin.



Neither is someone whose work I would have followed or enjoyed until I read “The Difference Makers.” But now, wow.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to Why Read ‘The Difference Makers’

  1. Jon says:

    Beautiful piano, appears to be a model D?
    This post seems to be attempting to ward off the very thing I’m about to write: I am surprised at this book given your past opinions on ultra high end furniture (“why would you want to copy the style of your bosses boss” and all that). Is there some sort of difference between that $700k(?) Steinway and a Chippendale highboy? Both are certainly furniture of the 0.1% from their respective ages. Is this book merely, as you imply above, a forced lesson in expanding one’s horizons?
    I guess I’m just curious as to whether you are developing an appreciation of this strata of furniture, or not.

    • Hi Jon,

      I have always appreciated high-end furniture such as this. It’s impossible for me not to. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to build it.

      As a publisher, I think my job is to challenge both myself and my readers. Some challenges are more successful than others. But every year I try to stretch myself further. Otherwise, I should just publish birdhouse books and cash the large checks.

      As a woodworker, I will take my inspiration from any source. David Savage’s work, for example, affects me deeply. While some people might see his designs as really “out there,” I see a strong connection to the natural world. No matter how much I appreciate it, however, I will never attempt to build something in that vein. It’s not me.

      But I know his work has improved mine.

      So I don’t think I’m doing any more changing than is usual.

      As always, please disobey me and anyone else with a soapbox.


  2. boclocks says:

    That’s not a piano, that’s a FORTE!

  3. Dave Polaschek says:

    As I commented on Twitter, I didn’t need this post to decide to buy. Profiles of 30 successful (I’ll take your word for it) designers along with pictures of their work. It’s like going to a smorgasbord – there’s going to be something there that I’ll like, and I’ll probably get my fill and then some. And based on the PDF, you’d better include a bib with the book, because I’ll be doing some drooling.

  4. nrhiller says:

    I cannot wait to see it in real life, especially given the proportions of the book. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Much of the work included here is eye-popping.

  5. Richard Mahler says:

    I did not know you were publishing this book, but when you announced it for sale it took me about five seconds to click and make the purchase. The ever-expanding universe of creative design has been one of my consuming interests and this is my kind of book! I have been a fringe designer both in graphics, furniture and other materials for more than 50 years. People often ask where my ideas come from. There is no answer. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I won’t live long enough to do a fraction of what comes into my mind on a daily basis. It have to be content that they form complete in my mind’s eye; I have to choose, and I cannot say why I decide. I am already thrilled with what I see in the pdf and I await having the book in my hands!

  6. Paul Cleary says:

    Hi, a question because I’m curious.
    Why is the print font size so small (making it hard for old guys like me to read it), given the large areas of white unused paper in the margins of the page?

  7. John P Herndon says:

    Thanks for the pdf! Looking to the print version.

  8. Simon Hillier says:

    That’s it, I’m selling my tools … Seriously though, I can’t wait to consume this book, hugely inspirational content.

  9. bpholcombe says:

    Nice to see contemporary makers getting good attention.

  10. Mike says:

    I am now excited about this book. Honestly, I originally was turned off by the title because I know Marc is very religious, so I (mistakenly) assumed it would be filled with (perhaps not so) subtle evangelism. The preview disproves my initial take. Thanks.

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