Alabama Sawyer (Alasaw for short) owner Cliff Spencer never went to woodworking school, but he would never call himself "self-taught." He learned by working for a lot of talented and demanding people. After starting young as child labor in his family’s yard in Birmingham, AL, he built sets for plays throughout high school. He built window displays in New York for Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the country, while supporting an acting habit. He transitioned to set design for film in Los Angeles which gives him a profile on IMBD. He always kept a job in a wood shop for in between movies. He realized he thrived in the wood shop more than on a film crew and never looked back. He learned the craft from the skilled professionals he has worked for in New York, Los Angeles and Aspen, CO.
While running his own shop, he catered to a desirable and discerning clientele, including A-list celebrities. He completed a range of high profile projects, including David Hertz’s Wing House, Los Angeles Magazine 2005 Design Home, the Casa del Mar Hotel spa, and several restaurants, including Westside Tavern, Bucato and Trois Mec. The work has been published in Angeleno, Angeleno Interiors, California Home + Design, Woodshop News, Woodworker West, Wired, Martha Stewart and featured on the CBS Evening News.
His favorite part of the business in Los Angeles was “Tree Concierge”. A customer’s tree would come down and we would guide them through the process of having it milled, dried. Then, we would design personalized architectural elements and furniture for them. We partnered with the City of Burbank to divert hundreds of trees from their landfills.
The urban timber concept had legs. He wanted to grow, but navigating Los Angeles seemed harder every year. Plus, he had an insatiable itch to move home to Birmingham.
Cliff knew the trees in Birmingham were the best. The creative community is growing at a rapid pace. He pitched the idea at Design/Birmingham in 2014 and found local collaborators who were ready to start milling. Lastly, he convinced his wife, a California native, to head to the deep South for a culture shift - and she went for it!
Life is short. Live simply. A table, a few chairs, a bed—all you need are the essentials. Cliff Spencer's furniture and cabinetry aim to evoke warmth, create comfort in your home and give you some peace. When the morning sun hits the swirling grain of the wood in one of these pieces in just the right way, you'll see a different angle, a shape, a curve you hadn't noticed before.