Cowan outside the beloved Cottage Table Company
By Johnny Gollin
Tony Cowanís passion for
woodworking inspired him to make his first table more than 35 years
ago, while he was a philosophy student at Harvard. Through the
years, the passion has only gotten more intense and now he will tell
you that it has become an obsession.
His Cottage Table Company, which
he founded in 1974 with his wife, Jackie, specializes in
one-of-a-kind tables. "We started making tables years ago in
our farm house in Ireland. We wanted honest construction and natural
proportions, with good solid planks of wood. Now we divide our time
between Ireland and our San Francisco workshop near the Bay, just
east of Potrero Hill. Two mature trees and possibly the largest wild
rose bush in town, a mascot rabbit reincarnate, and lots of
long-lived tables guard our parking lot."
Tonyís workshops have always
been located along the San Francisco waterfront. When asked why, he
responded, "San Francisco Bay together with the ocean are
elements that make this area legitimate. Itís geologic time. Time
and tide, incidentally, are the same word, as in good tidings. Tide
refers to when the water is measured not to the movement of that
Tony and his team build tables
that perform different functions ranging from console tables, dining
tables and desks to altar pieces, restaurant tables, and board room
tables. Each table is unique.
Tony has become one of the most
accomplished craftsmen in his field and the Cottage Table company
has made and sold thousands of his one-of-a-kind tables to an equal
number of satisfied customers. "Our client roster includes some
of the most notable, dynamic, and successful individuals in the Bay
Area and beyond," says the San Francisco artisan.
Buyers of his tables have become
friends and loyal followers. On March 1, he will be holding his 25th
annual reunion celebration for them. They will gather in his
workshop and drink champagne, surrounded by tables of ebony,
variegated birdsí-eye maple, cherry, ash, and mahogany. All of the
beautiful woods are ecologically harvested.
The Cottage Table Company, 550 18th
Street (near Third Street), San Francisco, (415) 957-1760.