The instructors at Maine’s Center for Furniture Craftsmanship probably didn’t see it coming.
It was October of 2012 and one of the attendees at the center’s Furniture Intensive training, a young man from Michigan named Kyle Huntoon, approached them at the beginning of the 12-week program. He let his instructors know, in no uncertain terms, what his goal was for the next three months.
“I am going to bleed you dry of the information you know,” Huntoon recalls telling them.
He held true to that promise. He worked tirelessly; when the day’s training would end each day at 5 p.m., Huntoon would stay in the studio until 11 p.m., drafting and creating.
Huntoon, now the founder, owner, and lead designer at Hunt & Noyer on West Baltimore in Detroit, could be forgiven if he sounded a tad overly eager. He had, earlier that year, made the decision to leave his career as a civil engineer and follow his passion to become a furniture designer and craftsman.
Through his company, Huntoon aspires to create an aesthetic that is uniquely his. His work emphasizes the nuanced touches that distinguish handcrafted work from cheaper, pre-fab furniture.
“I have this cheesy line that ‘They stand the test of time in both utility and design,’ ” he says of his pieces. “It’s very important to add handcrafted details that show people it’s handmade and it’s made well.”
left: Art Deco-inspired charcuterie boards and wine tasting flights for The Royce Detroit wine shop & bar;
right: Kyle Huntoon attaches the leather handle and bottle opener onto a wine carrier for shipment;
A fourth-generation craftsman, Huntoon inherited his love of furniture-making from his grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather, who was a barn-builder in Jackson. From an early age, Huntoon spent time around the handcrafted furniture and woodworking tools of his grandfather and great-grandfather.
He got a civil engineering degree from the University of Michigan and worked in the profession for five years, but then he had a personal reckoning. “I was unhappy in engineering,” he says. “I walked away from the money because I saw the value and happiness of doing something I loved to do.”
That was in 2012, and he was living and working in northwest Washington. He decided to come back to Michigan and reinvent himself. He moved to Detroit and set up shop as Hunt & Noyer, even though there is, technically, no Noyer — and Hunt is a shortened version of his surname.
He came up with the name after musing on his mother’s maiden name, DesNoyer, which translates to “of the walnut tree.” Considering that much of his work is crafted with wood from walnut lumber, he thought the name fit. He eventually took a version of his father’s surname and combined it with a version of his mother’s surname. Hence, Hunt & Noyer was born. “It’s an homage to them,” Huntoon says of his parents. “They both kind of contributed to me coming to be a maker.”
LEFT: handcrafted joinery of the Solomon series console.
RIGHT: Huntoon cuts wood on the miter saw.
Since its founding in 2012, Hunt & Noyer has enjoyed steady and growing success, both with custom orders and at furniture exhibitions. Huntoon was a contestant on season two of HGTV’s Ellen’s Design Challenge, which aired this past spring. He didn’t win, but he enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
He is currently creating a catalog, and then plans to try shopping out his line to a larger audience. For now, he continues exhibiting at furniture showcases and accepts custom orders. His goal is to grow, but not so quickly that it compromises the quality of his work.
“The integrity of it is important,” he says. “I’m trying to create a certain aesthetic because I want people to say, ‘Kyle made that.’ ”
For more information on Hunt & Noyer, visit huntandnoyer.com.