Peter began making furniture……in 1968, working out of a New York City storefront. He left the city in 1971 for the hills of western Massachusetts, where he lives today with his wife and son.
His early work was inspired by the simple, vernacular furniture and interiors of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century America. While a partner in the North Family Joiners, he specialized in Shaker designs that were classics of proportion and simplicity. NFJ reproductions were sold at the Hancock and Chatham Shaker museums in the Berkshires, as well as at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Later Mr. Murkett became a partner in restoration of the Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. His fireplace surrounds, corner bar and wicket, Windsor sidechairs, wall clock, and harvest table complement the historic setting. His work is also featured in the restored Stebbins and Thayer houses, as well as Gedney Manor, all part of the resort.
In the 1980s, Peter made hundreds of chairs in a variety of traditional styles, and built his house and studio in the woods of Monterey, Massachusetts. During his early years there he lived and worked without electricity, riving chair parts from fresh-cut logs, treadling his lathe, and practicing the green-wood joinery perfected by chairmakers over two hundred years ago. He taught chairmaking in his studio, and at Country Workshops in North Carolina.
In recent years Mr. Murkett has joined splits and hewn elements on a larger scale in his outdoor gates of white oak and locust. During the 1990s, the long engagement with traditional forms and methods coalesced into a signature style, New England Modern. The collection combines old and new sources of detail and form in lively contemporary work.