‘Making things is just a wonderful thing’: York County artist shines through ‘eco-modern’ furniture designs

Peter Danko of Peter Danko Designs in York County is an award-winning woodworker and artist who designs everything from chairs, to cabinetry to walking staffs.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Even though his work has been featured in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Peter Danko is still chipping away at new projects from his humble studio in York County. 

As the owner and artist behind Peter Danko Design, he says his long career has thrived under a simple message: “Making things is just a wonderful thing.”

Crafting everything from chairs to walking sticks, Danko’s love for woodworking and art still thrives 51 years after graduating from the University of Maryland  in 1971.

However, Danko didn’t fully tap into his creative niche through his fine arts courses in college – he attributes that discovery to his post-graduate job at a water bed warehouse.

“Next to the water bed warehouse there was a wood shop,” explained Danko. “The guy in the wood shop had a customer who wanted things carved. He laminated these big pieces of wood and I started carving. And it was so cool, I just loved doing it.” 

Danko said his time working at that wood shop inspired him to make furniture, the craft for which he is most known. Among countless accolades, his one-piece plywood chairs landed him a coveted spot in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

“I guess that’s my claim to fame,” said Danko of the MoMA feature. 

Danko takes pride in both his modern designs and the materials he uses to build out his ideas. 

With sustainability being a core focus of his work, Danko uses eco-friendly materials like repurposed seat belts and salvaged wood. His entire business operates under a “less is more” mission, designing “furniture with a focus on sustainability, recycling, resource conservation and fun,” according to his website.

His love of the outdoors and natural resources is easily seen in his walking stick creations. The stick, which was inspired by Danko’s frequent walks around Lake Williams, is both aesthetically intriguing and practical. 

“I started thinking how would I design a walking stick that would really work if you’re going uphill and downhill,” said Danko. “…It’s a real multi-functional hiking tool. But this is cool…and I think it makes me look cool to have this walking stick. You know, people focus on the walking stick and not the fact that I’m an old kook.”

Danko’s walking sticks and his other wide-ranging designs are all available to browse on his website

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