Field Day's Envelope Chest.
What’s your background, in terms of design?
Absolutely nothing! I got into furniture about four years ago. I was working with unfinished furniture manufacturers—a kind of dying-off segment of furniture. I was working with them, trying to release some modern, unfinished furniture. There was such a DIY movement and so many more people capable of refinishing things, why not give them an outlet for modern furniture they can paint or finish themselves? That was my first foray into furniture as far as working with manufacturers and doing some light design work. We weren’t really doing anything extravagant—it was pretty straight-lined stuff. I did that for a few years, admittedly without a lot of success. The unfinished sector has been a slowly sinking boat for many years and I don’t know if there’s really anything that can buoy that any longer. The entire time, I’ve been interested in furniture and design and one day just decided to start sketching out what was inside my head. I never thought of myself as a designer, never had any formal training. I just kind of saw stuff in my head and would sketch these ideas out and it kept going and going. I finally met a guy here in Dallas who had a woodshop and started interning with him, putting some pieces together. That’s how Field Day was started. KC now builds furniture for Field Day, so it’s been a bit of a role reversal, but he’s been a very important person in my life. A lot of design is aesthetic, but a good portion is also structure and properly building something. It’s something I’ve always thought about, always loved it since shop class in high school. One day you turn 30 and you start believing in yourself a bit more! I kind of have the mentality when looking at some furniture that I can do that better, so why not? That was it…a lot of hours sketching stuff, a lot of hours doing 3D modeling, a lot of hours in the woodshop. Slowly over the last eighteen months, I’ve been finding my voice.
Where did your inspiration come from for the Shingles Pantry?
That was inspired by the very first piece I ever worked on. I was building a set of stools and I just loved the half-round shape of things. All of the cut-offs from the stool I was building—all of these half-round sticks—I started playing around with them and realized I really liked the pattern. I bought a case of cedar shingles from Oregon and when I laid them out, I realized the variation and depth of them were just stunning to me. They were soft, they were inviting, they had a flow to them. I decided to take that material and see how I could use it–how could I lay it out so you could get the full effect of it. That’s when I started thinking of a pantry or a larger piece.
So you make your own prototypes, or does your carpentry mentor do it?
I do the prototypes. Our basic practice is, I’ll sketch everything out in pencil and paper first, to get the basic idea down, then I use a 3D modeling program and get all of the dimensions worked out. Then I’ll sit down with him and we’ll work out materials. I build all of the prototypes as a way for me to figure out any design issues that do come up during construction. The final product is built by him, here in the heart of Dallas, right next to White Rock Lake.
The Envelope Chest is so clever and simple. I love that little bit of humor in a piece like this. Did you have fun putting that together? Did you just have a Eureka moment while looking at a kraft envelope?
Krista won’t take credit for it, but that was basically her idea. She and I were in a bar…
Of course you were!
(Laughing) We were at the Beauty Bar in Dallas one evening after dinner and I told her I’d been really wanting to build a blanket chest. I’ve never seen a cool version of that, so I think if I want one, maybe everyone wants one—which is probably the worst business mentality of all time! But I just wanted a cool, modern blanket chest. It’s one of those heirlooms that gets passed down. Krista took some napkins and started playing around with it and came up with the clasp on that. I thought that was a really good idea so I pulled some pictures of envelopes and added the front flap to the lid so that the negative space creates the fold of the envelope, but for the most part, the thrust of that piece came from her. We also built a cherry version of a vintage Coleman cooler. It didn’t come out exactly like I wanted, but I might release it one day. It was cool, it was made like the old one, with the curved bottom and three sections…it was very masculine-looking. I’d like to add a metal band around it because it’s hard to tell some of the detail when the whole piece is made from one wood. It needs an accent to give it some depth. But yeah, it came down to sparkling wine and napkins!