Local Heroes: Two Rising Brooklyn Furniture-Makers

by Nalina

Last Sunday Jean, Becky and I visited Bklyn Designs, the annual showcase at St. Ann’s Warehouse for local designers and craftspeople. There were upholsterers, woodworkers, carpet makers, and metalsmiths there, all showing off the beautiful things they produced in their Brooklyn studios.

Two rising furniture-makers with very different sensibilities made a big impression.

Colleen and Eric design lovely, playful home furnishings inspired by far-fetched ideas. Small brass rivets are recessed into the dark wood top of the “Northstar Table” like stars in the constellation. If you locate the northstar and press down on it, a secret side drawer slides open. It’s the perfect place to stash a diary, jewelry, or contraband.

COLLEEN AND ERIC NIGHTSTAR TABLE

COLLEEN AND ERIC NIGHTSTAR TABLE DETAIL

Colleen and Eric’s “Hold on Tight Bookshelf” takes unlikely inspiration from the image of books toppling sideways off an open shelf. This simple maple shelf is capped at one end and has a brightly-colored, sliding metal stop at the other. The toy-like mechanism is a pretty accent and also a lot of fun. Becky couldn’t stop playing with the display model and Jean and I finally had to drag her away.

COLLEEN AND ERIC HOLDONTIGHT

COLLEEN AND ERIC HOLDONTIGHT DETAIL

Colleen and Eric also make accessories like tote bags and keychains. Their product lines are sure to expand further as they’re struck by new ideas. It ‘ll be fun to see what they’ve come up with at next year’s fair.

In contrast, the pieces from Kai-Wei Hsu’s shop KWH Furniture take inspiration from the elemental qualities of the woods that they’re made from. The furniture in the new “Vice” line doesn’t shout out for attention. Each piece has a clear, modern sensibility and yet is so restrained so that it wouldn’t feel out of a place in a traditional interior.

The elegant “Bar Cart” is made from white oak with a cerused finish. The first thing you’re drawn to is the fine grain and stain of the wood.

KWH BAR CART

Then, as you lean in closer, you understand the exquisite workmanship of the piece. The outer corners of the frame are held together with wood splices.

KWH BAR CART DETAIL 01

KWH BAR CART DETAIL 02

The similarly elegant “Vanity Table” is made from black walnut with an oil finish. Its proportions are perfectly balanced. The first think that strikes you is the sumptuous finish in the wood.

KWH VANITY

Then when you move in closer, as you’re bound to do, you see how subtly and precisely the drawers are fitted.

KWH VANITY DETAIL 03

KWH VANITY DETAIL 02

I’m looking forward to seeing how Kai-Wei’s designs evolve as he explores new materials and details. Whatever direction the pieces take, I’m certain they’ll all have the same immaculate craftsmanship.

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