Founded in 1977 in San Francisco, CA, Prowell Woodworks has long been defined
for its commitment to innovations in both design and methods of
construction, while offering a line of benchmark products that have come to redefine the genre.
A graduate of Southern Illinois University in 1973, Charles studied Architecture, Art, and Design--under
Buckminster Fuller--before ultimately graduating in Psychology, which probably had more to do with keeping Prowell Woodworks solvent over the decades than all three of the former interests combined!
Charles' mother--and Ben's grandmother--left the art department of the University of Illinois as a painter in oils to accept a commission illustrating the Children's World Book Encyclopedia. She went on to develop a signature aesthetic within the genre of fashion art, working in pen, charcoals, and ink. Throughout her life she was a devoted, and addictive, poet and sculptor. From her, Charles learned both conceptual and lyric symmetry, as well as how to forge a sustainable existence through the discipline of a self-employed productivity.
Her brother, Charles' Uncle Charley, graduated in architecture from the University of Illinois, and although he died young, his drafting tools are regularly employed to this day by both Charles and Ben.
Charles' father studied journalism at the University of Illinois and became the youngest sports editor for the Champagn/Urbana News Gazette before succumbing to illness at 28. From him, Charles may have developed his lifelong fascination with words.
Charles' step-father was a carpenter and building contractor. His father Wyman was in turn a part-time furnituremaker with a fully equipped shop where Charles first became absorbed with the controled, languid pace of the shop over the often calamatous pace of a job site.
At some juncture, Charles emerged in his early twenties with a body of experience building homes and furniture and understanding the parameters of both mediums that lead eventually to the innovations in both design and methodology seen within these pages.
Charles founded Prowell Woodworks at 27 as
a format for aesthetic expression and structural innovations. As
a means to earn a living that is drawn by both purpose and a self-perpetuating
absorption until one day, perhaps well into his 90's, a life
well lived comes to an end in a pile of soft accepting sawdust.
Meanwhile . . Ben's lifelong tutelage encompasses all the above, apprenticing since childhood via this genetic continuum that was in turn embellished with two years of intensive study at the venerable
North Bennet Street School of Furnituremaking, in Boston, MA. The
country's oldest woodworking school, located since 1885 in the same
building across the street from not only what was once Paul Revere's home, but also across the street from Ben Prowell's apartment at the time, or studio, or, well . . . it was actually not much more than a rabbet's barren. A cozy little closet in Boston's North End.
The balance of power between them shifted dramatically and irrevocably upon Ben's return to the shop in 2012.
____ A business is in many ways simply a toy. Created to provide purpose, absorption,
fascination, and happiness to one's life within a format that rewards
its founders with utter control over the accumulating decades, and
with a resilience to an ever-changing perspective on life itself.