Lester Santos, owner of Santos Furniture in Cody, Wyoming, doesn’t build furniture.
Rather, he creates works of art that just happen to be tables, beds, hutches, cabinets and chairs.
Born into a Portuguese family in Massachusetts, Lester began his wood-working career making harpsichords and guitars. Soon after graduating from college, he took his skill to Longmont, Colorado, where he worked in a small guitar manufacturing shop. Eventually, he widened his creative range to include furniture.
In 1977, Lester moved to Wyoming and in 1990, he started Santos Furniture, combining elements from New Mexican, Adirondack, Native American, Shaker and Molesworth design. Lester uses only the finest textiles and leather, then hand-selects choice pieces of fur, cherry and juniper to craft his unique creations. Buyers can customize their furniture and cabinets not only by color and material but also by size and shape.
Lester’s furniture has appeared on NBC’s Today show and the Home and Garden Network, and was featured in the June 2002 issue of Architectural Digest. Among the rich and famous who own his pieces is CNN founder Ted Turner, who purchased a desk and chair. And noted designers Ralph Kylloe and Mimi London from the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, California, think so much of Lester’s work, they funnel him upwards of 40 percent of his business.
Lester’s furniture may look too beautiful to use, but rest assured, it’s also strong. The next time you get the chance, sit in one of his Molesworth chairs. It won’t break.
— R.G. Robertson