Category Archives: furniture
Here are some recent pieces we’ve made. Our shop has been quite busy with orders, new designs, and expanding the shop.
We’re done moving, and as usual it took twice as long as planned. We’ve also expanded our workforce and our lead time is now 2-4 weeks at the moment. I’ve been hoping to lower it since 2009 and it’s finally happened! Let us know if you have rush orders and we’ll see what we can do.
I’m having a one-time sale on select in-stock pieces (up to 50% off). Buy now before they’re gone! Call us at 602-322-1111 to place an order.
Here’s a custom set of rigid casters I just made for a mid-century modern table. The handmade forks are roughly polished and sealed with a durable satin coat. The cast iron wheels are painted satin black. Weight is around 10 lbs per caster. These are priced at $295 per set and you won’t find them anywhere else as I’ve looked. Non polished casters are $250/set.
Here is another one of a kind table created by visiting designer VÃ¡clav JirÃ¡sko. Would make a cool coffee or end table. It’s for sale and the price is still to be determined.
So today I went to Bungalow to browse and found this piece for sale. I recognized it immediately. Hey, that is MY ELLIS DESIGN. Hmm, India was my 5th largest web visitor and it’s no wonder why. They are copying my designs. And what a poor copy it was. Weighed about half as much as mine. It looked cheap and the wood was beat to hell. Casters looked bad and well, it looked like somebody crapped this copy out of their butt (to put it nicely). I was infuriated at first, wanted to punch the store owner, then the poorly paid 12 year old kid in India who lost a finger making it. But then I thought it over. The piece looks like cheap shit which is perfect for somebody who likes to buy cheap shit. Oh by the way, it was $800 more then my piece ($2195). And my customers don’t buy cheap shit so I guess it’s all good.
Unfortunately India is sending me catalogs via email with pieces they didn’t even make. I should know, I’ve seen these actual antique pieces for sale in New York. Cut and paste to your catalog, and now you built and carry it. So I watermark my pictures. I am sure some of my pictures are in these catalogs. Oh well, karma is a… Buy from overseas, fill their country’s pockets, weaken our economy, and your customer has something that falls apart soon and doesn’t look very nice. I guess I am still a little angry here, arrrrgggghhhhhh, breathhhhhhh………
Anyways, see if you can spot the copy below:
Well the owner of Bungalow called me and we had a nice talk. She said she has no knowledge of that piece being a copy of my design and purchased it as a one-off from an Indian manufacturer. So they won’t be buying anymore of them since there aren’t any. Also since it was a one-off, the price was much higher than a production piece. Which makes sense to me. Now I will just take her word for this. But do I believe all of this, no comment. Only time will tell.
So I know the India manufacturers are copying me. And trademarking my work is too expensive at the moment, not to mention the cost and time of enforcing it.
So I guess the larger picture is just the US buying knockoff and super-cheap products from Asia. Maybe it’s impossible for a store owner to buy original products made in America and stay in business, I don’t know? I do my best to buy American materials when building my designs, but it’s just about impossible to stay 100% American. Am I a hypocrite? This is something I am going to have to ponder over the next few weeks. But I thank all of my fans/friends for the support over this ordeal.
Here is a conference table headed for a Manhattan high rise. Dimensions are 11′ x 42″ x 30″ and it has an aged sugar pine top with riveted metal trim. It uses my A Frame base design with added cross supports.
Just finished a pair of these for a customer. The design is based on a european vintage piece. They are all steel, riveted together with a thick steel top and an aged rust finish. These would work well as side tables, outdoor tables, use a couple of the bases to hold a coffee or dining table top, or use as a display table for your pet elephant. These measure 22″ x 22″ x 24″ tall and weigh around 75 lbs each. I can make these in a variety of size, finishes, and use different materials for the tops. Prices are around $995 each.
I’ve been asking myself, why do people like industrial furniture for their homes and businesses? My first memory of buying this type of furniture was at Costco, I bought a chromed shelf made of welded wire on casters. Some people call them metro shelves. It was rated to something crazy like 500 lbs per shelf or a ton total. I loved how this piece looked, and it was built to last a long time under high use.
In college, I bought stuff at Target that fell apart after a year or two of light use. It was made of particle board, veneers, went together with an allen wrench, and it was cheap. The wood ended up bowing over time, and if you got it wet, the particle board would bubble. I had some Ethan Allen furniture ever since I was a baby. That lasted until I was in my 30s until I sold it for a good price.
I guess what many people don’t understand, if you pay more at the beginning for something that is quality, it ends up costing less in the long run because it will last, maybe outlive you. And if it has classic lines and is not trendy, it can stay in style for a long long time. A fan of mine, Naomi Siegler wrote me recently about this:
“I can easily see your pieces used in “hospitality” for “accent” pieces or “focal point” pieces. I can see it for restaurant or cafe too, because, it will be so enduring and strong and commercial use gets so much abuse.
Many people don’t realize it but, “hospitality” and “restaurant” furniture may often look residential but, has hidden reinforcement and strength. I think sometimes small businesses or new businesses make the mistake of not having an “experienced designer” specify for them. I will visit an establishment and a year or two later see that they are on their second round of furniture! Architects don’t support too, much in referring or advocating our expertise but, reps. and specialty fabricators like you see we can make a difference.
Did you know the famous metal chair …the “navy” chair by Emeco was originally designed more than 75 years ago for US Navy destroyers? Now it is all the rage and the authenic ones are still being made and sold and are kind of expensive compared to junk but, cheap if you look for chairs that will last more than a lifetime! You follow in a powerful tradition of metal furniture making that’s for sure.”
When I build something for a commercial application, it’s usually identical to the residential version. That’s because I way overbuild all of my designs. None of my designs can be disassembled, except for the 308 shelf. They are permanently welded and/or riveted together. I typically use structural steel like angle iron. I only use solid wood, no veneers. And one of my favorite parts, the casters, make it easy to move things around in your home for parties, cleaning, and rearranging.
So why are people drawn to vintage industrial furniture? It’s meant for heavy use and is well made and thought out. It’s a strong reminder of the past when people cared more about what they were making than the money they were putting in their pocket. While I do care about making money, I won’t build anything that I don’t like or that is or looks cheap. If I’m not proud of what I am doing, then I won’t do it, which is one of the perks of being self-employed. I love my job, even though it’s quite physically demanding work with a bit of danger mixed in.
An even rarer style is American made Vintage Industrial. Restoration Hardware used to make some stuff here, but has since moved just about everything to China. While I like their designs, I am trying really hard to support America by buying from here. And most of the industrial shops I visit (in person and on the web) are selling either true vintage pieces from Europe or new stuff from India. India is a HUGE maker of the vintage industrial style. And if you touch the pieces, the steel, although fairly strong, is about half or less the thickness of what I use. I get emails from Indian companies all the time and their prices are crazy. $17 for a metal stool, $50 for a coffee table, $150 for a huge dresser. This is about 10% of what I would charge. And they claim to use reclaimed wood. I’ve been told that they lie about this sometimes. How do you check? And where are they getting this wood? Maybe it was somebody’s beloved home or it’s a lie or who knows what. Reclaimed seems to be all the rage right now, but that doesn’t mean much to me unless I know where it came from. I recently bought a lot of reclaimed mahogany that was originally installed as bleacher seats back in a 1912 New Mexico schoolhouse. How do I know this is true? Well it looked to be reclaimed, had the proper screw and worm holes from age, and one piece had an old sticker that looked about right. So it’s probably true.
This Brooklyn coffee weighs around 100 lbs and would probably support 2000 lbs. While it will probably never be subjected to that much weight, it’s always nice to know just incase 10 people decide to dance on top of it.
Anyways, I’ve got to get back to work on this restaurant project. Thank for listening to my rant and please feel free to comment below!
This piece was part of a project for the Smith Commons restaurant in DC. We built several cafe tables, bar tables, and this hostess stand. This is probably my personal favorite design to date.
36″ w x 48″ t x 20″ deep on locking 5 spoke casters. Features include a rare reclaimed Philippine mahogany top originally installed as school bleacher seats in 1912, handmade iron work on top, sliding keyboard tray, wiring access from top to bottom for monitor/keyboard/computer, 3 cubbies for menus, ornamental lattice work on back, rivet work, stenciled wood top, backsplash, sloping top, all handmade steel construction with a vintage patina. It has a French Industrial style circa 1940s.