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Peek into the creative process of a Naples woodworker with stunning furnishings

Cori Craciun shares her love for Mother Nature through organic home decor and furnishings.

BY December 20, 2022
Cori Craciun Studio
Romanian transplant Cori Craciun established her showroom-workshop, Sticks and Stones Collection, in Naples Art District in 2018. (Photo by Omar Cruz)

Cori Craciun opens a cardboard box as if it were an antique treasure chest, carefully removing raw-cut, glistening quartz from its foam-lined interiors. The Transylvania, Romania, native is obsessed with the organic forms Mother Earth produces. Things as simple as rocks and branches remind Craciun of her hometown in the mountains, her travels and her new home by the sea. “Pay attention, take it in, take a second to look around you,” she says. In 2018, Craciun channeled her enthusiasm for Earth’s simplest materials to create Sticks and Stones Collection.    

In her Naples Art District showroom and adjacent workshop, Craciun carries an ample inventory: handcrafted coffee tables topped with live-edge wooden slabs, end tables crafted from tree stumps, bowls shaped from individual pieces of translucent onyx, molten glass terrariums tenderly balanced upon curving branches.  

Soft-spoken and conscientious, Craciun’s energy crackles as she moves around her workshop, discussing her craft. All the unpolished rock specimens and unfinished teak and rain tree wood she uses to craft her furnishings come from Southeast Asia and Central America. She waits until the materials arrive and she has time to study them in person to determine their fate—what knots she’ll work around or saw off, which holes she’ll fill and polish or leave untouched, how she’ll cut the wood according to the weave and pattern of the grain. Working with power tools, she coaxes rough surfaces with fastidious sawing, sanding, drilling and assembling to reveal a perfectly imperfect end product that nods to the Earth. “I wanted to be a mechanic growing up,” she says, as she recalls watching her father work on old tractors in Romania. “Whatever had to do with tools, I did it.”   

Craciun moved to New York City in her early adult life; by 2000, when she was living in Naples and on a trip to New England, she realized how much she missed the rocky terrain of the Carpathian Mountains where she grew up: “I picked one granite rock up, laid it down by the hiking trail, and told it, ‘Wait for me; I’ll come back and get you on my way back.’ And I did.” Craciun had recently started collecting rocks around her Southwest Florida home, but these mountain stones seemed more talismanic, like the ones she remembered from her childhood.

She returned to Naples with around 50 pounds of rocks in a single backpack. More rock-collecting trips, from Niagara Falls to North Carolina, ensued over the next few years. Sixteen years later, when shopping for a display for her collection, Craciun had a lightbulb moment. “I saw this teak console table online, and I fell in love with it,” she says. That table, and its refined wood, juxtaposed with her rigid collection of stones, inspired her to create pieces that riff on the elements. Craciun opened Sticks and Stones Collection in 2018.   

Stop by her workshop and you may find her unloading hundreds of pounds of wood through a hefty overhead door, sanding for hours to get the perfect smooth finish for a gnarly root sculpture, adding the final layer of clear coat to a porous tabletop, or rearranging a shelf of gleaming crystals or agate slices.

Her coated, live-edge tables—which take up to six weeks to craft—have become a signature. “I really didn’t know that live-edge was gonna become such a thing,” she says, with a laugh. “When I first saw mountains of teak roots at suppliers and these beautiful slabs, I was like, ‘Oh. My. God.’” She’d finally found her calling.

Photography by Omar Cruz