Our friend Roy asked us last evening, “How did you start making furniture? Was it a hobby?”
Being in a hurry, my reply was brief: “No.”
I’ve always loved design, from fashion to jewelry to books and magazines to furniture, and in the 1960s I worked with my father in his retail business, selling used, vintage, and antique furniture and lighting. From this experience I developed an attitude toward buying furniture – I hated spending money on brand-new stuff. Used was cheap, and often beautifully-designed vintage or antique.
When we came to New York City in 1976, our status was that of starving-artist-and-family. Having no money to furnish our apartment, we took to the streets, where we found a treasure-trove of chairs, small tables, and picture frames put out on the sidewalks on garbage-collection days. Our big dining room table, and all of our bookshelves, we built from lumber purchased at places in our Manhattan neighborhood like the famous AJO Lumber. My son and I would lug the lumber home, often making several trips, and I built the pieces right in our big apartment.
Our design and building technique we labeled “low-tech.” Nails and screws, the rounded corners of a 50s retro style, sanded and polyurethaned to a matte finish. We are still living with all these furnishings 35 and more years later.
When we moved to our current neighborhood, in 1994, we found ourselves in a beautiful beach house, and we needed benches for our deck. It’s then that we started thinking about how to utilize the amazing, rough, pieces of lumber from old destroyed docks that littered our beach front to build furniture.
So, no, it was not a hobby – we needed furniture and we scrounged or created it ourselves, with an aesthetic always in mind, of course.
– Dave Wilder