East End Nest: Quality Furniture and Made-to-Order at Groundwork

I like using natural materials in a home. Who doesn’t love wood, stone and marble? Sometimes the juxtaposition of a natural or industrial material set against a traditional item can have great design impact. So when I had the opportunity to design a unique table for my client’s new home, and at a reasonable price, I was elated. Their home is a former herring factory from the turn of the century and feels like a loft with high ceilings and a large open floor plan with a series of rooms connected to one another. While this configuration allows for relaxed entertaining and encourages family and friends to gather around a kitchen island or table, it also presents some design challenges because the furniture needs to be large in scale without being overwhelming. Because the combined expansive living and dining room is set against a backdrop with spectacular views, and in a non-traditional space, we decided together that a long yet narrow unconventional dining table was in order. We wanted to make it the statement piece of the room where we created a muted neutral color scheme of creams and whites. My client had the image of a reclaimed wood table with a raw edge as if cut straight from a tree to inject a modern yet organic feeling to the scheme. [expand]

When I attended the New York Gift Show last March I was immediately smitten with the company Groundwork. They had an interesting booth set up with a custom-built pergola overhead to showcase their furniture. Stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the design team builds the furniture in their studio and most pieces are custom designed and made from unusual materials such as zinc, natural raw-edge wood tops, reclaimed antique wood, with bases made from real tree trunks and trellis. They get their materials from places like Amish barns, parts from retired machinery and glass from turn-of-the-century factory windows to create unique, beautiful and useful furniture. Groundwork makes a wide range of furniture from tables to benches. The designers are impressive with their commitment to quality, and once we gave them the size and style specifications of the table, they accommodated us by quickly sketching up a working plan. My clients decided to take a road trip to their Pennsylvania workshop to choose the particular slab of wood, and once they arrived they decided to have the table made with a raw-edge on both sides.

The New York Gift Show has become a helpful source to scope out quality furniture craftsmen and artisans. In years past, I thought of this show as a place to find interesting accessories and small objects, but recently I have found some very good quality furniture makers willing to work on one order at a time. The Gift Show takes place twice a year at the Jacob Javits Center at Piers 92 and 94 in New York City and may be worth the trek for design inspiration and sources. I just returned from the August Gift Show and the many talented people exhibiting this year have inspired me. I am looking forward to the next show in March. If you decide to attend, pop on over to the Groundwork booth and check out their wares.

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