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No Two Alike

Local Craftsmen Create One-of-a-Kind Pieces With Aesthetics & Function in Mind

Local craftsmen Ben Dragoo and Eric Luster came to their craft through very different paths, but share many commonalities in their love of creating exceptional, one-of-a-kind pieces. 

Ben Dragoo is a fourth-generation Normanite who grew up helping his father remodel their family’s iconic home in the Brookhaven area. 

“My father had three boys, so it was like a built-in labor force,” Ben explains with a laugh. “It was an old schoolhouse that we remodeled to make it what it is today. There were always projects to do, which helped with my early skills in construction. My dad had a workshop, and I remember he always encouraged my creativity, even at the expense of his good lumber!”

Eric Luster recalls that he always enjoyed working with his hands, but he didn’t discover his love of woodworking until he was a newlywed in 1999. 

“I was a first-time homeowner with a very low budget and very expensive taste,” Eric recalls. “I had to find a way to make it happen. I bought a few tools, a few DIY books, and got to work. After a short period of time, I realized I was able to pick up the skills relatively quickly. So, I left my office job and opened up shop.”

Eric then founded Luster Custom Furnishings and Renovations, which specializes in custom furniture, cabinets, and wood and concrete creations. He realized early on that woodworking was a hands-on skill developed only through hours of practice, starting with basic techniques and gradually advancing to more advanced methods of joining, sanding and finishing. 

“I quit my office job around 2000. Luckily, my wife is a successful barber with a large clientele, and almost all of my first customers were friends of ours or clients of my wife. My first commission came and the other kept coming,” he adds.

“My goal was to do what I said I would do, when I said I would do it, and apparently that was rare in the industry. I just kept working and learning, and the business grew.”

After graduating from Norman North High School, Ben explored many different aspects of building with his hands, from precision machinery, custom motorcycle building and service, to all facets of commercial and residential construction. This ultimately led him to become general manager of Urban Farmhouse Design, a now defunct furniture company that specialized in building using reclaimed materials. In 2015, he started his own business: The Modern Prairie Craftsman. 

“I really focused on the reclaimed material business model,” Ben explains. “I enjoyed knowing that I was building a dining table that could be in a family for generations, and that I was bringing in the individual tastes of my clients into what we were creating.

"My pieces are truly a collaboration with my clients," he adds. "I can see the value of the reclaimed wood, and the reclaimed materials I work with would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. You just can't manufacture wood that is 80 years old.” 

In Ben’s experiences with The Modern Prairie Craftsman, the entire process centers around finding the balance between design and function.

“It doesn’t matter how cool it looks, if it doesn’t serve its function. There is definitely an aesthetic value to furniture, but it also has to do what it is intended to do and be comfortable and useful. I talk to my clients about both function and aesthetic, and I find materials to fit the bill.”

Eric shares that his creative process is often inspired by what he sees around him, from books, magazines and even social media.

“Oftentimes, my customers take a picture of their space, show me their style and send me some pictures of their ideas, and I take it from there,” Eric says. “I have pieces of lumber that I acquire, and sometimes it just hits me what I need to do with them.”

Ben says that the most rewarding part of his creative process is creating something useful, effective and one-of-a-kind. 

“People are parting with their hard-earned dollars to get something unique,” he concludes. “It is really important to me to honor the commitment and give them what they expected. I create something that will both fit their space and their aesthetic.

"I love putting my artistic touch into what I create and having the trust and confidence of my clients. I create pieces that will last generations and can become heirloom pieces. I enjoy playing a small part in what might become an important piece in a family’s history.”

For Eric, having the opportunity to serve as a mentor to a new craftsman that he has brought into his business has also been a source of pride and satisfaction. 

“Being able to pass on the skills that I have worked so hard to obtain, and to see his progress and finished work has been such a real joy,” he adds. “As a two-man business, I really enjoy being the business that people go to when they aren’t sure if something can be built. I love doing truly custom pieces that challenge my skills. As a homesteader with a small farm, I care about the world we are leaving to those who come behind us. I value building quality furniture that will last several lifetimes.” 

For more information:

Ben Dragoo, The Modern Prairie Craftsman: on Facebook or call 405.706.7228

Eric Luster, Luster Custom Furnishings & Renovations: LusterCustomFurnishings.comon Facebook and Instagram; or call 405.229.7298

“My goal was to do what I said I would do, when I said I would do it, and apparently that was rare in the industry. I just kept working and learning, and the business grew.”

"My pieces are truly a collaboration with my clients," he adds. "I can see the value of the reclaimed wood, and the reclaimed materials I work with would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. You just can't manufacture wood that is 80 years old.” 

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