Zach Allen builds things. He creates real-life, three-dimensional objects that people use to sit on, place objects in and generally admire.
He brings art and structure where there once was nothing.
In many ways he is no different than Nehemiah, the central figure of the rebuilding of Jerusalem in 445 BC. “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire” (Neh. 1:3). Nehemiah brought art and structure to the broken city.
Where there once was nothing
For his day job, Zach is a set designer at a national craft and boutique store called Anthropologie. It is here that he works at his craft.
“I’m constantly in a creative environment; I keep practicing,” Zach said.
What is he practicing for though? Why does he choose that creative environment?
In his own free time, Zach makes furniture. He builds cabinets and tables; he fashions wooden blocks into beautiful, heavy utensils – ladles, soup spoons and much more.
“I’ve always enjoyed art,” Zach said, “but it wasn’t until I tried ceramics for the first time in 7th grade that I realized my passion for making functional pieces. I find joy in knowing that something I make can be used in someone’s everyday life.”
It is this art that stirs Zach’s heart. It is this art – this vision for functionality and beauty – that invokes his affections for Jesus Christ.
Nehemiah’s similar attitude and vision was apparent when rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He said to the people, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision” (Neh. 2:17).
Vision for functionality and beauty
Zach intertwines his love for art and love for the Lord. “Growing in my craft and in my relationship with the Lord are similar. Before beginning either, they seemed impossible for me. Both took time and patience. And I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning,” he said.
Zach explained what goes into doing something well. “Art has made me a more patient person, wanting to do all these things and learning how much time and effort that goes into something that’s quality.”
His dream is to make furniture for a living, not just as a complement to his regular job at Anthropologie.
Until then he knows that, like Nehemiah, he can use his gift for a purpose. If there is one word Zach wants people to define him and his work by, it’s “servant.”
Nehemiah was no stranger to serving. The beautiful thing about both stories is that each person – Nehemiah and Zach – realized that they are simply tools of God.
“I believe I’ve been given the spiritual gift of serving, and He has put me on a path to develop a certain skill set to use toward that,” Zach said.
Builders both, but servants first.