John Yarema was a systems engineer. It paid well, there were benefits and no weekends, and in today’s technologically savvy society, it was a job that wasn’t going away. He hated it. While he and his wife were renovating their first house, a 1850s era one-room schoolhouse, John found his calling. He wanted the floors to be true to the history of the building and ensured they were. He was a self-taught apprentice. He found as he so aptly put it, “a love for architecture and design, an appreciation for fine craftsmanship, and an understanding that there are no shortcuts.” That was 20 years ago.
Since then, Yarema built his business the way he crafts his hardwood floors and other works of art, step by step with an eye to detail. Many companies boast they have been doing hardwood floors for three generations. John brings a deep love for his craft, the knowledge earned through many years of trial and error, and an eye for design and art. If other companies have generations of experience in stock solutions to unique problems, then Yarema trumps them with the ability to treat each project as its entity. There are no stock solutions for John Yarema. John is keenly aware of the need for sustainability in today’s world. While he knows no business is truly sustainable, he strives to bring forth the best product possible while using the most sustainable methods. He prefers to use local materials. He does not deal with stock solutions to flooding problems. Each project is unique to the building. The wood tells you where to go.
John recently completed a flooring project for the SC Johnson Complex’s Fortaleza Hall designed by renowned architects, Norman Foster, and Ralph Applebaum. The flooring project was a wooden mosaic topographical map of the western hemisphere tracing Sam Johnson’s journey from Racine to Brazil. The map set in a sea of white terrazzo is crafted from black walnut, American cherry, maple and hornbeam and the outlines with a 1/8″ aluminum strip and using brass to depict Johnson’s route and his stops.
“All of us have had jobs that we knew didn’t suit us. We might be good at them but it became the same old grind. We’ve wished we could be doing something else, but life intruded, and you have to put food on the table. Sometimes though, you get the chance to do what you want, to create a deeper beauty.”
Yarema has worked for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and their families are close friends. John refurbished the floors in Kennedy’s New York home after it sustained flood damage. Environmental sustainability was paramount to the Kennedys and John used hardwood recovered from woodwork recovered from the turn of the century housing slated for demolition. He designed and created handcrafted parquet floors for the entire main floor. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. states, “John’s floors are the soul of our house. He is a gifted artist who takes woodworking to a new level.” He adds, “John Yarema is the ‘Michelangelo of Wood Floors.” John also created the visually stunning woodwork for the Ann Arbor Library.
John has done projects all over the world for individuals and corporations. From the mosaic at Fortaleza Hall and the magnificent depictions of biblical scenes and breath-taking tapestries in hardwood from nature, John brings consummate artistry and craftsmanship to every project he takes on. When I talked to him, he was in the middle of a project in Michigan but graciously took time from his busy schedule to discuss Yarema Creative Hardwood Flooring and his philosophy with me.
But it’s not just about creating beautiful woodwork for John. He is concerned about the environment and has created the Yarema Forest Foundation dedicated to reforesting areas such as the South American rainforests stripped of their trees not only by lumber harvesters for hardwood flooring wall treatments and furniture but for use as fuel, a usage that accounts for between 12 – 30% of deforestation and also adds to greenhouse gases and global climate change. For Yarema giving back to the earth what provides him isn’t just a beautiful thing to do; it’s a responsibility.
What’s in the future for Yarema Creative Hardwood Flooring? He is expanding from hardwood floors to cabinetry and furniture. There is a more profound beauty in Yarema’s creations. It isn’t just the artistry. It’s not enough to provide the customer with a hardwood floor of enduring beauty if nothing is done to renew the basic building block of that beauty. Many companies are technically competent to lay a hardwood floor. One, Yarema Creative Hardwood Flooring breathes life into every project. Future generations will marvel at his beautiful topographic map in Fortaleza Hall and gasp with delight at the intricate parquet in Kennedy’s greenhouse, and that is as it should be. But hopefully, others will take up the mantle of environmental sustainability as John Yarema has so that the magnificent forests that provide not just hardwood but the very breath of life and a deeper beauty than any person can create will be around for future generations.
Yarema Creative Hardwood Flooring may be contacted by phone at 248-798-8388 or by email [email protected].