Ever walk by a garden gate hearing the whir of table saw beyond it and wonder, what’s going on in there? In Hancock Park woodworker Michael Zicopoulos saws and planes and sands rough lumber into beautiful custom-made furniture, built-ins and wooden accessories, just beyond that garden gate.
Zicopoulos works as Mike Z Design out of a 1920’s garage on 4th Street east of La Brea, creating functional art out of hunks of wood, with design leanings toward clean mid-century or mission furniture. Raised in Seaside Park, NJ of Greek heritage, Zicopoulos did a stint as a US Marine before settling in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1992, where he still lives on North Plymouth Blvd today.
He has an easy commute to a Hancock Park home where he works out of a studio workshop garage packed with chisels, planers, joiners, band saws and scroll saws, with workbenches on rolling wheels and the door wide open to let in the sun and sounds of the tranquil neighborhood.
“I believe if you’re going to do something, learn to be really good at it,” Zicopoulos told the Buzz. “Everything I do is like an art piece, it’s sculptural, makes use of the wood grain and design, and is built strong.” He builds with mortise and tenon joints, hidden lag bolts, and in some cases finishing off with clean butterfly joints. “I can look at the pieces you have, size-up your design style or the things you love, and build something that works for you,” he said.
Zicopoulos got his start in woodworking building reproductions in sets for the movie industry, which was great training ground for learning furniture styles. He now prides himself on designing pieces that “put a spin on” a traditional style of furniture. He likes to works with his clients learning if they want to copy something they saw, or perhaps to build something to match a piece or built-in they already have in their home.
Turnaround is usually 2-4 weeks once a design and wood type is determined, and then the bearded. tattooed woodworker goes at it full tilt. One added benefit for clients who order a custom-made piece is Zicopoulos will post photos of his progress on the work online on his Facebook page, so they can keep tabs on the piece – from birth to final finish. “I like my clients to feel part of the process,” he says with a smile.
Mike Z Designs ships worldwide, or can deliver locally. Check out his work online at www.mikezdesign.com or on Facebook. Or stroll down 4th Street and see if you can hear the sound of a table saw, and you just may find the friendly woodworker hard at work.