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Zac Merten: Mindfulness in making

By Vicki Hillhouse

In the woodshop of Walla Walla artist Zac Merten, making furniture is a spiritual experience.

The proprietor behind Zac Merten Design traces his woodworking roots all the way back to work as a National Park Service employee. On the backcountry trails, surrounded by mountains and solitude, he developed an interest in the concept of mindfulness. His deep dive into the practice led him to a Vietnamese monastery in the south of France.

“That was kind of the transition between trails and then finding this inspiration to come back to school and go into green building,” he says.

Merten salvages materials, such as metal, wood and wind-fallen timber — pieces with beauty and character — and fuses them with modern shapes and forms to craft ergonomic benches, tables and other creations in a rustic modern style.

“Often the historical and rustic part is a very textural thing, and the modern part is a very shape- or form-oriented aspect of the work,” he says. “It’s just bringing those together – I find a lot of gratification in that.”

Watch a video to learn more about Zac Mertenclick here!