Took some pictures of some new designs just finished. Includes a couple filing cabinets made with some new and salvaged steel, an NYC kitchen table which weighs in around 150 lbs, and a new Brooklyn design.
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!
Here is another variation of the Ellis console table with 4 doors with solid fronts and 2 shelves in the middle. There is a hole in the back of each section for wiring. The piece is 60″ wide x 22″ deep x 32″ tall and weight around 225 lbs. This piece will price around $2295.
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.
Custom Ellis console table with hand polished steel, doors on the top, and a black lacquered oak top. Has a mid-century modern industrial look. This was a piece for a client. Cost to reproduce this is around $1375 for the console plus $350 to polish it.
Started work on a 2 drawer filing cabinet based on a 40s industrial cabinet. I’m pretty excited about this piece! I’m building two and one will have casters, the other legs, and they will be around 35″ tall x 26″ deep x 16″ wide.
Apartment Therapy is having their annual holiday giveaway and I plan on entering a new Brooklyn coffee table design. So hopefully one lucky person will win this table. Here is the last giveaway: http://giveaways.apartmenttherapy.com/2009/holiday
This table is 40″ x 20″ x 19″ tall. It is all metal with lots of rivets and I will be using reclaimed mahogany for the bottom shelf. As usual, this piece is heavy and virtually indestructible. This piece will price around $1,095 and be available in any size. This might make a nice Media console table too. Wife thinks I should enclose it and add doors, kinda like a steamer trunk. Lots of possibilities…
I built this as a dining table but noticed it would work great as a desk. The one of a kind A frame is built of heavy gauge steel and 2 tubular cross braces with bolting ends. The solid top is made of 2″ x 12″ aged sugar pine.
Available in other sizes, finishes, a steel top, just the base and not top, etc. Custom work is my specialty!
Dimensions – 60″ wide x 34″ deep x 30″ tall, approx 250 lbs,
Priced at $1,850 on up
I picked up a couple of these tables today. I am keeping one and selling the other. I was told this table was used by a Nascar team as a work table to rebuild their car. It is VERY heavy duty and will probably support a ton or more. The 36″ x 96″ top is made of 1/2″ thick steel and the frame is made of 3″ round tube. It has heavy duty casters that lock the wheel and the swivel part which make it pretty easy to move around considering it weighs about 800 lbs. The height is 36″ which makes it nice for standup work, bar table or outdoor table. The top also overhangs 6″ all the way around, and it has a storage shelf underneath that is 17.5″ x 78″. The frame is powder coated gray and the top is raw steel with the natural coating from the mill. They used a waterjet machine to cut the triangular bracing underneath. Asking $950 (SOLD) for this table, free pickup in Phoenix, I’d have to check on shipping but it’s probably around $350-475. I can finish the top with an industrial clearcoat if you would like. And I can also repaint this if you’d like another color. This was custom made in America and new was around $2,000.
This table adjusts in height from 18″ to 30″ making it ideal for a coffee table or small dining table. And it’s so strong, that I could stand on the corner of the top and it would barely flex, so you could use it as a work table too. The threaded screw has a spinning lock underneath to keep it secure. This was a custom piece for a client, and I can remake it or change things around. The top is 3/16″ thick steel and 40″ x 40″ with a 1″ x 2″ boxed frame underneath. Price would be around $1075.
And here is a slightly smaller version with a 30″ x 30″ wood top. This was built as a cafe table / dining table for Smith Commons restaurant in DC.
This desk has a modern yet vintage look. It’s made of steel and has a stylish V in the top for holding magazines, books, etc. This piece is 60″ wide x 38″ tall x 24″ deep which is working or bar height, and custom sizes are available. It’s heavy, approximately 250 lbs, and could have casters too to make it easy to move around. Priced at $1,475.
I found a small supply of reclaimed mahogany today (4/4 or 1″ thick). Back in 1912 it was installed as bleacher seats at a school in New Mexico so I’d guess it to be 2-300 years old. It’s been planed down and has some signs of age, plus holes here and there from the old screws that held the seats down. I can’t wait to get it on a piece, maybe a desk?
I also bought old two tables. One is coffee table size, has a metal base and an ugly square top which I will be replacing probably with some of the mahogany. And my wife spotted this one, an 8′ long oak table probably from the 40s that was used in a school. It’s going to be gorgeous once we refinish it. It would be nice as a dining or work table.
Prototype chair base that adjusts in height from 18″ – 31″. It swivels or locks into place and will work for a dining table, as well as a bar stool. I’m not sure if I am using steel or wood for the seat, we’ll see. But it definately has that industrial factory look. Reminds me an old jack stand or some kind of press.
With New York being a big inspiration for my designs, I set off to build a tribute to the amazing place. My clients in New York usually have a few things in common: they want something unique that has an industrial feel, it needs to be functional yet beautiful, and space is always an issue.
I feel these pieces meet all of those needs. They were built as 2 separate tables that can function as side or accent tables, yet when put together, they work as a coffee table. The custom font that I created makes them blocky as possible which leaves lots of top surface area. And they have latching doors so you can use them for storage (about 3.5 cubic feet each). You can also face the letters forward, or upwards. After I built them, I realized how heavy they were (120lbs approx). So these could be used as safes if I installed an optional lock.
Dimensions: 20″ x 20″ x 20″
Weight: 120 lbs each
Price: $1,350 for both