Beyond the Craft: Furniture Design with a Purpose

with Daniel Mayes, Shop Assistant at Purposeful Design

Indiana Community

To design with a purpose and move beyond the craft of woodworking, the Indianapolis-based, wood shop, Purposeful Design, looks to create more in its employees than just great work ethic. With a tag line: Building Furniture to Rebuild Lives, Purposeful Designs employs and trains men who are without or have been without a home and find securing a job difficult. PD Indy “…design and build a variety of furniture, each handmade by these men. Much like the wood (Indiana hardwood) we use, each piece of furniture is unique and behind it a unique story of life restored.” – PDIndy/About.

Patrons are encouraged to stop by the Purposeful Design shop anytime and employees are encouraged to linger before and after work hours for fellowship, Bible Study and more. Most recently, you can find PD Indy works in the cafeteria at Pendleton Heights High School and in the new, Braden Business Systems HQ in downtown Fishers.

Interview recorded on August 23, 2017. Hosted by Taylor Bennett. Part 1 of 1.

Read a partial transcript of the interview here:

Bennett: Established in 2013, Purposeful Designs is already outgrowing its home and taking on big clients, was this success expected?

Mayes: No, I know the passion our Director David Palmer has put into this. From the start we asked God’s blessing if this was to continue; if not let’s get over it quick. In that sense, the growth is not surprising.

Bennett: You’ve been here from the beginning…did you have a plan?

Mayes: I recently retired from the fire service and at that time I was looking for something meaningful to do. I met David Palmer, someone brought us together and said I think you two have something in common. He had a vision to provide work for some of the men he had already contacted down at Wheeler Mission. Some of those men, when they graduate that program, don’t have a job they can go to. That will often through them back into the cycle of brokenness and poverty. We figured out a way to give these guys employment, direction, discipline, I do some mentoring and we have a weekly Bible Study in the shop.

Bennett: Do they feel a sense of accomplishment when they get to work with their hands and seeing what they create?

Mayes: Absolutely. All my life, I’ve worked with my hands and always like to see what I’ve accomplished at the end of the day.  I think men were born with a purposefulness. Some of these men have made some bad choices but they want to grow out of their past. To have something to get up for each day, to be teamed up with other men that have the same desire to make a difference. Seeing their passion emboldens me and makes us want to go stronger.

Bennett: Describe for me a typical work day. I understand lingering is welcomed.

Mayes: Yes, we love the public to always visit us. Some of the guys come in as early a 7 a.m.. They always have a prayer and scripture verse shared each day; to start the day. Most of these men are cross-trained to be able to do a variety of skills. That’s what we are trying to do is give them a foundation so that if they want to go somewhere else, they are qualified to do so.