When he talks about wood, Stephen Hart is passionate and nearly reverent about its qualities. He speaks of grain, dimension, color, and iridescence. The wood, in turn, he says, speaks to him. “The wood I choose inspires the furniture I create,” he explains. He points to a dining table made from a slab of silver balli. He has deliberately left the edges raw, allowing the exotic hardwood’s natural beauty to dictate the design of the piece. The legs, however, are smooth and graceful, like the trunk of a tree flowing to its branches. Steve’s handcrafted furniture is a study in contrasts. “I like to mix it up,” he says. His Shaker-inspired small tables blend curly maple, bird’s eye maple, purpleheart, black walnut or silver balli to create rich, eye-catching surfaces. Other pieces are striking combinations of traditional and contemporary styles. “I admire the simple functionality of Shaker craft, but I like funkier, more contemporary work,” says Steve.