Design Tips

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MDC's All-American Road Trip: Michigan

We’re coming home to Michigan for the final leg of our month-long road trip. Michigan may be widely known for its auto manufacturing base, but our great state is also home to many companies that produce hand-crafted furnishings:

Before automobiles were flying off the assembly lines in Detroit, fine furniture was being produced in the warehouses of Grand Rapids by companies like Baker Furniture and Widdicomb Furniture Company. During the latter half of the 19th century, Grand Rapids was a major lumbering center, providing the source material necessary to become a premier manufacturing city and earn its nickname, “The Furniture City.” While many of the major players have gone out of business or moved elsewhere, there are still several manufacturers producing handcrafted fine furniture today. Kindel Furniture, who merged with Indiana-based Karges Furniture last year, has expanded again by acquiring North Carolina-based Councill Company earlier this month. Production for all three storied manufacturers will be based in Grand Rapids, bringing more manufacturing jobs to the state and keeping The Furniture City’s legacy alive.

Also based in Grand Rapids is a manufacturer brand new to MDC, Down, Inc., which will be available in the new Master Suites showroom, suite 27. They offer a large selection of down and feather bedding products, including duvet inserts, sleeping pillows, featherbeds, blankets, and many other fine bedding items.

If there’s one thing Detroiters know best, it’s making something. Art | Harrison, The Detroit Wallpaper Co., and Pewabic Pottery are prime examples, each producing quality products for the home.

Art | Harrison is a furniture collection hand-crafted in Royal Oak and is the creative offshoot of Art | Harrison Interiors, a full service design firm, offering more than 20 years’ experience from the principal designers of Arturo Sanchez and Barry Harrison. The collection features over 45 selected pieces – including seating, tables, mirrors, lighting, case goods and home accessories – each piece created from solid mahogany which can also be used outdoors.

The Detroit Wallpaper Co. was launched in 2012 by founders Andi Kubacki and Josh Young in Ferndale. They offer a collection of customizable wallpaper featuring bold, oversized patterns. Recently, they have ventured into floorcoverings, offering a collection of hand-tufted rugs that feature their unique designs. Check out this video interview with Andi talking about the origins of the company.

Pewabic Pottery has the same deep roots in Detroit history as the auto industry. Founded in 1903 at its historic home on Jefferson Avenue, the pottery studio is known for its iridescent glazes found on their collection of ceramic tile, vases, ornaments, and much more. Its product is featured in famous architecture throughout the country, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet two of these local artists on Thursday, July 23 during “The Craft.” Andi Kubacki, Co-founder of The Detroit Wallpaper Co., and Genevieve Sylvia, Senior Designer at Pewabic Pottery, will be part of the keynote panel discussion at 11AM, sharing insights into their craft.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MDC's All-American Road Trip: The West

We’re heading out west for the next leg of our month-long virtual road trip around the United States. American craftsmanship and the entrepreneurial spirit are alive and well!

The Pacific Northwest may be known for its vibrant natural beauty, but there are also many talented artisans located here that create hand-crafted tile ranging from ceramic to glass and stone. Located in southern Oregon, Encore Ceramics produces a large collection of sustainable decorative tile, all made from scratch. Their commitment to the environment is quite extraordinary. No raw waste is produced during the manufacturing process, which captures all the clay, glaze and water waste, and recycles them back into the process until it results in a finished tile.

Next, we head to Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, which is home to two all-American tile manufacturers; Ann Sacks and Pratt and Larson. Both manufacturers originated in the early 1980s and got their start by selling hand-crafted ceramic tile. As time has progressed, both companies have expanded into other flooring options, such as glass, porcelain and stone, yet stayed true to their roots by continuing to operate ceramic tile manufacturing facilities in Portland. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Pratt and Larson’s factory by clicking here.

Whether it’s California’s strict upholstery legislation – which many out-of-state manufacturers use as a standard – or the manufacturing itself, the Golden State has a significant influence on the interior furnishings industry. Our first stop brings us to San Francisco, where in 1948, a young couple by the name of John and Elinor McGuire started a furniture company creating tables and chairs by binding rattan with rawhide, and offering dozens of custom finish options. These pieces captured the essence of casual luxury and quickly caught on in the design community. While John and Elinor are no longer living, their legacy lives on in each piece of McGuire Furniture produced today. Check out this video interview with the late John McGuire, describing the innovative design behind McGuire’s unique furniture.

Around the same time that John and Elinor were building their furniture empire in San Francisco, a pair of entrepreneurs downstate were looking to make it big in the textile industry. Matthew M. Pindler and Carl Pindler formed Pindler & Pindler Inc. in 1947, opening their first fabric showroom in Los Angeles. Throughout the following decades, Pindler continued to expand, always upgrading the square footage of its corporate headquarters as well as expanding into new markets, with 18 company showrooms and 10 representative showrooms to date. The company’s two largest fabric collections – Newport Mansions and Hearst Castle – are manufactured in the USA and draw their inspiration from artifacts found at these historic American homesteads.

Our final stop brings us to an unlikely home for a furniture manufacturer, Goodyear, Arizona, where Lorts Furniture has been creating quality casegoods for three generations. Located in the Sonoran Desert, it comes as no surprise that sourcing wood for their furniture locally was out of the question. That’s why in the company’s first generation of ownership, Andy Lorts began sourcing wood from the Pacific Northwest – a business practice that still remains in effect today. The Lorts tale is a somewhat unlikely success story, starting with its inception in 1966 when Andy Lorts began manufacturing dining room suites with no previous experience in the matter; to later in its second generation of ownership under Mike Lorts, Andy’s son, who capitalized on the popular waterbed trend of the 80s and 90s, but quickly had to re-invent when that industry took a nose-dive. Today, the company is in its third generation of family ownership under Ty Lorts, Mike’s son, and has developed the reputation for having some of the finest finishes in the country and recently expanding into the upholstery market.

 Check back next week as we will be heading home to Michigan for the final leg of MDC’s “All-American Road Trip.” We’ve invited many craftsman from our road trip to MDC for our event “The Craft” on July 23. Come to the event to meet them and see their skills demonstrated live and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we will be featuring more All-American products!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

MDC's All-American Road Trip: The Northeast

The next destination in our month-long road trip is the northeastern United States. Not only rich with American history, this region is also home to many talented artisans that produce hand-crafted, heirloom-quality furnishings:

This small town in western Massachusetts is home to textile artists Peter Fasano and Elizabeth Hamilton. The husband and wife duo own a design studio where they produce their own collections of hand-crafted, stylish fabrics and wallcoverings. Each product is hand silk-screened, with some containing hand-painted details, giving these products a unique character that machine printing cannot replicate. Because each is individually crafted, they have the ability to be completely customized as the paints used in the designs are individually mixed on site. In fact, custom orders account for about 40% of their work. Check out this video by Quintessence for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their space.
– Available at Rozmallin, Suite 60

The furnace burns 24 hours a day at Tracy Glover’s glassblowing studio, with molten glass ready to be molded into an assortment of custom lighting and accessories items. Each piece is made to order using time-honored Venetian glassblowing techniques. The possibilities are truly limitless with her lighting collection of table and floor lamps, wall sconces, and pendants with a large variety of choices for the proportion and shape of base components, glass color, lampshade fabric, metal finishes and lamping.
– Available at Marie-Howard Showroom, Suite 119

Our next stop brings us to upstate New York, where a fifth generation furniture company has been practicing environmentally sustainable manufacturing for more than 167 years. Harden Furniture sources all the wood for their furniture on a 10,000 acre forest that the company owns and maintains with their on-site forestry division. Additionally, the company owns and operates a sawmill adjacent to the forest, making them one of only a few furniture manufacturers that own their own woodlands and sawmill operations. To get a closer look at this eco-friendly company, take a virtual tour of their factory here.
– Available at Decoroom, Suite 37

Our final stop brings us to the bright lights and skyscrapers of the Big Apple, where Michigan-native Allison Goldenstein creates hand-cut, stained glass tiles out of her Midtown Manhattan studio. Her company, Allison Eden Studios, creates custom glass mosaic designs that can be found in various venues around the world including The Venetian in Macau, The Wynn Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan, Sidra Medical Center-Qatar, Atlantis Bahamas, The Plaza Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Hotels, The Mandarin Oriental, and many more hotels, casinos and homes worldwide. The imperfect cut lines give the glass tiles added character that when fully installed, can enhance any space with a unique mosaic that is truly eye-catching.
– Available at Beaver Tile and Stone, Suite 101

Check back next week as we head out west for the third leg of MDC’s “All-American Road Trip.”  Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we will be featuring more All-American products throughout the entire month!