Compagnons du Devoir: "Brotherhood of Duty"
Ten years back Seattle Stair & Design’s founder Shawn Christman set off for Europe in search of the Compagnons du Devoir (“Brotherhood of Duty”), the elite guild of woodworkers who built the great cathedrals and chateaux of France. History tells the guild first appeared at the time of Solomon, and by the twelfth century AD was active in the construction trades in Europe. For nine centuries the Compagnons gathered the brightest talent, forming a fellowship of craftspeople who traveled the world beautifying civilization’s greatest cities and handing down their skills from master to apprentice. Masterpieces from Mount Saint-Michel (photo shown) to the Louvre, from the Scottish highlands to the sands of Santa Fe were the result. But where, in this age of mass-produced commodities, had the Compagnons gone?
An enduring tradition: Shawn discovered a tradition that was very much alive. The guild was at work all over Europe, building masterpieces that represent the peak of centuries of development of the finest European joinery. Shawn toured their headquarters and training shops. He studied their history, met with their leadership, and ultimately achieved his goal – to become the first North American stair maker certified by the Compagnons as an approved destination “Stage” for their apprentices and masters. Because of this relationship, an apprentice Compagnon can earn credit toward the completion of his 7-year Masterpiece by studying for a year under Gauge Design Group and their team of skilled craftsman. The staircases we produce for our clients represent the fusion of this old-world craftsmanship and modern techniques.