Since his career began 33 years ago, Fortune has become acclaimed for his innovative, but resolved, designs for one-of-a-kind objects in wood, commissioned residential furnishings and items in limited editions. His work has brought him an international clientele and reputation. He is acknowledged for both his technical and design expertise, giving lectures and workshops across Canada and the United States. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. In 1993 Fortune received the prestigious Prix Saidye Bronfman, Canada’s highest award in the crafts. Juried by his peers, He was the first woodworker to receive this award. He has taught at many schools and craft centers including; Sheridan College School of Crafts and Design, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, the Rochester Institute of Technology NY, Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, Anderson Arts Center, Colorado, Australian National University, Canberra Australia, Sturt School New South Wales Australia, Centre for Fine Woodworking, Nelson New Zealand, Savannah College of Art and Design and the Marc Adams School in Indiana where the fellowship program for advanced students has been named in his honor. In 1996 he accepted an invitation to become the first Chair of the new Wood Products Design program in Nelson, British Columbia. This two year contract saw the installation of all the facilities and the development of the core curriculum.
Fortune’s career has taken on other dimensions. He consulted to the government in Trinidad and Tobago when the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Assistance contacted him to assess their manufacturing potential and ultimately to design a range of outdoor furniture to be produced by five manufacturers.
Fortune has undertaken a similar venture using sustainable source timber in Mexico, aimed at the expanding hotel industry within the country. In addition Fortune has volunteered his time and expertise to Woodlinks, a joint Canadian/U.S. not-for-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing vocational training in secondary schools throughout North America. He was an active trustee of the Furniture Society based in North Carolina, an organization that encourages innovative studio furniture making across North America. With this organization, Fortune spearheaded a contemporary internship program that gives emerging craftspeople opportunities to work along side established makers throughout North America.
Michael Fortune received the 2007 Award of Distinction from the Furniture Society. There have been fourteen recipients and Michael is the first Canadian to receive this prestigious award.
Michael Fortune has a clear vision of how fine craft can positively effect the culture and economy of Canada and the world beyond.