Steinway & Sons

Europa III

By Thomas Schrunk

Furniture veneer master, Thomas Schrunk says, “burl is the most difficult and beautiful of veneers.” His masterpiece, Europa III is a magnificent treasure of bookmatched burlwoods, featuring a stunning contrast of two rare examples, Walnut and Carpathian Elm.

Burl occurrences are rare and yield highly prized veneers, enhancing the value of this exclusively burlwood piano.

This Instrument is Available

The complex technique of bookmatching utilizes successive veneer leaves turned over like pages in a book and joined edge to edge. The legs and lyre are solid walnut double-tapered pillars, a tribute to some of Steinway’s legendary Heirloom architecture styles, accented with inlaid walnut burl to complete this refined and subtly complex design. The elegant Europa III is a subtly differentiated encore presentation of his widely celebrated 2005 design, and has received Schrunk’s gold signature on the keylid, reserved for his finest work.


Theme and Inspiration
“Whenever one embarks on an art project it is necessary to have a goal, a statement that is the theme of the work,” says Mr. Schrunk.  “Because this project was a musical instrument, I thought it would be appropriate to use the musical terms ‘Rhythm’ and ‘Variations on a Theme’ as the design basis.  To be honest, once that was decided and the first element was designed, the others came about easily, almost automatically.  The use of these themes naturally then tied the various parts together as I moved from one element to the next”.

"Rhythm" is expressed in the repeating book matched veneers as they flow around the rim of the instrument.

"Variations on a Theme" is found in the various examples of the radial, or “fan” book matching on the music desk and the upper and lower surfaces of the lid and the fallboard. The book matching on the underside of the lid radiates from the center of the interior, the source of the sound, and emulates its movement up and out of the instrument toward the listener. The radial book matching on the lid focuses thoughtfully on the position of the seated pianist.

The Magnificent Burlwoods
SignatureCarpathian Elm Burl may be the most varied of all burls, and is amongst the most difficult to work with, but gives magnificent results. The Walnut burl serves as a rich, dark, and complex frame for the featured Carpathian burl.

The upper surface of the lid is of special note. In a display of rare skill, Schrunk executes a burl wood border which can only be achieved by book matching the lines right down to the miters at the corners. When the underside of the flap is folded over to rest on the opened lid, the lines of Walnut Burl are perfectly aligned with the Carpathian Elm Burl of the upper surface, completing the last iteration of the radial or “Fan” motif. “This may be the most complex piece of book matching done in this country or elsewhere,” Schrunk says.

About the Designer

Thomas Schrunk

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Artist in Lustrous Materials
Thomas Schrunk has been called one of the top five veneer artist in the United States, and he may be the only artist know to use luster as a primary design element. His development as an artist comes through work in India and the influence of the repetitive motifs of Islamic art, as well as the lustrous gold leafing of Hindu statuary. His signature style, the “flow pattern” parquetry of wood grain gives directional movement over the surface, combined with luster which occurs in unexpected bands, changing location and shape as the viewer moves past. This luster changes throughout the day with the changing angle of the sun, and gives a quite different presentation at night, when lit from within the building.

Bookmatched burl is another interest. Because of its difficulty, it is not frequently seen, and is seldom done with precision. He has developed a technique where accuracy is no longer an issue, and book matching can be an active design element, not simply a presentation technique. The upper lid of the “Europa” series of Steinway & Sons Art Case pianos uses a book matched fan radiating out from the location of the seated pianist, and the underside of the lid emulates the movement of the music up and out of the instrument, again in radiating book matched burl.

His work has been described as “spectacular” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and a June, 2006 article describes him as a “Renaissance Man”. Steinway described his first piano, “Reflections” as “inspired design”, and named to his second piano, “Reflections in Cardinalwood” as an “artistic masterpiece” and ended their biography of him with the word “genius”. They describe him as a “furniture veneer master” for his work on “Europa”. His work is found in Design Book Eight by Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking), “Original Furniture from the World’s Finest Craftsmen”.

Taking the principles of refractive and reflective luster from wood cells and brushed metals, he developed a method of creating lustrous surfacing on concrete for the first time. Concrete Construction Magazine featured his work in a 2007 article after seeing photography of his work on the Sears Centre Stadium in Hoffman Estates, (Chicago), Illinois.

Midwest Home Magazine published an article in September 2009 about him He spends part of each summer as an archaeological photographer with his wife, Ivančica, on her Roman era site on an island in Croatia.

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