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Audio furniture that fits “just right”

Our last few pieces we’ve build have been customized versions of our Princeton small audio credenza. We began customizing our pieces with the Standard, and wanted to share our original story from March 2014.

Originally posted March 29, 2014

We recently finished a beautiful walnut credenza for an audiophile client. Sean has a lot of gorgeous equipment, but he was struggling to find an upgrade to his IKEA shelving to hold all of it .

Brokenpress Audio Credenza

The “before” – an IKEA shelving unit showing way too much stuff

He wanted to display his Jolida JD202 tube amp and VPI Classic 2 turntable, while his other components including his Oppo BD83-SE Bluray/Universal Disc Player, Mac Mini and Xbox 360 were to be hidden when not in use. It was a Goldilocks story: at traditional furniture stores, the products were wide enough to fit the tube amp and turntable, but not deep enough for the Bluray player; they were deep enough for the Bluray player, but not wide enough to fit both the tube amp and the turntable. When he did finally find one to fit his specs, it was extremely expensive, and he wasn’t happy with the design.

After a lot of unsuccessful searching, he found the “just right” solution at Brokenpress Design+Fabrication. We came in to measure and view the components. At that time, we noticed it would be best to have the credenza not as tall as our traditional credenzas to make sure the cover of the VPI turntable had enough clearance next to the wall-mounted tv. We left walnut, cherry, white oak and birch samples so Sean had time to decide which species of wood fit best in his home. He decided to go with one of our favorites, the walnut.

brokenpress design audiophile furniture

The “just right” solution – a lower credenza to accommodate the VPI turntable and wall-mounted tv

With his previous IKEA unit, all of Sean’s components were in plain sight.  Now Sean has a beautiful piece of furniture which really highlights his high-end pieces while eliminating clutter. When he needs to access his other components, he just slides the bypass door and is able to access them. Sean chose to upgrade the interior shelves to walnut because he loved the wood’s rich color.

With sliding doors, the components are exposed only when needed.

With sliding doors, the components are exposed only when needed.

One of the unique features of Brokenpress Design+Fabrication audio and video furniture is cord management. We’re all too familiar with the pile cords stuffed behind any audio or video components. At Brokenpress, we take cord management seriously, creating openings large enough for clients needs, while not being overwhelming on the backside of the piece.

Brokenpress Design Chicago Audio furniture cord management

Adjustable shelves and multiple output options for cord management

Brokenpress Design Chicago Audio furniture cord management

Subtle cutouts for cord management

 

Brokenpress Audiophile Record Storage

All cords organized thanks to Brokenpress

Being such an audiophile, Alex wanted to give Sean record storage for immediate access near the VPI turntable. The shelves are adjustable, so if Sean’s storage needs change in the future, he has the ability to change the shelf height.

Easy access for some of Sean's favorite records.

Easy access for some of Sean’s favorite records.

Sean was very happy with his new audio credenza by Brokenpress. You can read his review of it on our Facebook page. Have questions about an audio credenza for yourself? Send us a note and we’ll get in touch with you!

 

CD Storage? Not a Problem!

As much as we love vinyl at Brokenpress, we’ll admit, there are still some CD’s lingering in our music collection. So many great compilations and box sets came out on compact disc in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when vinyl was almost dead, and we still listen to them. The good thing is, we’re not alone. We recently received a commission from a client who loved our standard credenza, but needed to store 500 CDs and DVDs for a media room. After visiting the client’s house, Alex recommended to build it in a combination of white oak and birch to compliment the existing wood in the house.

Brokenpress came to the rescue with a new take on CD storage. Honestly, every CD storage tower I have seen in the past had the CDs displayed spine side forward like a book and was relegated to being propped up against a wall. Many people with large collections are looking for a more subtle way to store their music, such as our client. Based on these needs, Alex chose to build drawers as CD storage; a much cleaner and organized way to hold CDs. It also gave the flexibility to hold wider box sets or some of the more creative CD packaging that doesn’t fit in a pre-drilled slot. What if the clients’ musical needs change in time? The CD dividers can be pulled out, making it a traditional drawer.

We also introduced a new longer hardwood pull in solid white oak. It follows the extra wide width of this piece without making it overpowering. The drawers open with ease, and you an easily move back and forth between drawers with our extra sturdy drawer design.

The deep drawer on the left holds everything from DVDs and video games to snacks and remotes for the perfect movie night. The lower shelf of storage with bypass drawers hold both vinyl albums and board games. The Otto Credenza shows that even though Brokenpress Design+Fabrication builds for audiophiles, we can create beautiful and functional furniture for anyone’s needs. Tell us how we can help you!

Fireplace Surrounds Designed & Built by Brokenpress

In the past year, we’ve designed and built two large fireplace surrounds for our clients. The first project was in a newly rehabbed home where a new fireplace had been added to the living room; it was like working with a blank canvas. Alex met with the clients to find out what their storage needs were, which were a combination of shelves to display books and collectables, and enclosed shelves to hide children’s toys and such. He offered quotes for these custom pieces in both wood and “for paint” – still a durable, quality product, but at a substantial cost savings. The clients went for the more affordable option, but kept the mantel in walnut with its cascading grain; a signature in many of our Brokenpress pieces.

The second commission was to create a new mantelpiece and fireplace surround to an existing fireplace. These clients wished to hide the brick wall that enclosed the fireplace with warm walnut. Additionally, they wanted to mount a flat screen tv above the fireplace, but have it hidden when it wasn’t in use. Alex was able to create an updated, modern fireplace without any major demolition. Bypass doors and cord management make the flat screen television disappear for a more formal presentation.

Do you have an existing fireplace that could benefit with more functional storage? Or a wall-mount flat screen tv that should be a little more inconspicuous? Contact Brokenpress and see what we can come up with for you.

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Getting the word out while supporting stuff we love

Even with almost 15 years of furniture making experience, Brokenpress Design+Fabrication is still a new business. We’ve slowly dipped our toes into the world of advertising, but are very selective on who we market to. Our mid-century modern fans can see us in Atomic Ranch. Since we love the pinup lifestyle, it made sense for us to advertise with Kat Club, a great new offshoot magazine by the amazing Retro Lovely. We thought it was a great way to support a magazine we love, while getting our name out to like-minded people. Guess what?  Retro Lovely even shared our ad on their facebook page! (Welcome, new fans!)

We’re on the lookout for the right audiophile magazine to help us share our great audio storage pieces! Know of one? Please contact us and we’ll look into it!

Showcasing Record Cover Artwork

Did we ever mention that we’re vinyl junkies at Brokenpress Design+Fabrication? One of the reasons why we love to design and build custom audio furniture is because we love music. It’s rare when a record isn’t being spun at our home on Chicago’s northwest side.

Brokenpress Chicago Audio Furniture Vinyl Records

Back when Reckless Records would use post-its for their album reviews

A favorite part of collecting records, besides hearing on early 1970’s monster wars audio equipment, is enjoying incredible album cover art. Maybe my background in graphic design makes me a little biased, but album cover artwork, notably from early 1960’s albums, are often works of art in their own right. To highlight that, we designed a record rail to not only display beautiful album covers, but to also let inquiring minds know what you’re spinning, as well as what’s up next. It’s form and function all rolled up in one.

Brokenpress Audio Furniture Chicago record rail vinyl

Les Baxter is one of our favorites – in both 10″ and 12″ varieties

Brokenpress Furniture Alex Dunham Clash London Calling 12" single vinyl

Who doesn’t love a Clash dance party?

We think our record rail is the perfect way to display album artwork that we even brought it to the Guerrilla Truck Show.

Guerrilla truck show brokenpress design furniture audio chicago

Esquivel and Man from U.N.C.L.E volume 2

Don’t have room to put a record rail above your turntable? At Brokenpress, we can make any size record rail in the wood species of your choice to match your existing furniture. It can showcase your favorite records as both functional and artistic pieces. Don’t think your record collection is worthy of an LP display? Pffft! Our record rail can be used to display artwork, too.  Want to find out more? Contact us and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

 

More than just audio furniture

At Brokenpress we love vinyl; record shopping is one of our vices, for sure. We buy our records in Chicago and during any travels, so it comes natural to us to create audio furniture and vinyl storage solutions for ourselves and people who enjoy music as much as we do. By no means, though, does that limit what Brokenpress can create!

Many people contact us when they’re looking for built-in and custom furniture. A recent client moved into a new home, added a fireplace and wanted a mantle, surround and bookshelves. Our clients had a budget they needed to stick to, so Alex said they could reduce costs if they wanted to paint their cabinets instead of using wood veneer. He came in to measure the space and worked closely with our clients to find out what their exposed and enclosed needs were, and created the piece below.

brokenpress-inprogress

The mantle is walnut veneer with a hardwood walnut face; Alex found a great piece of walnut that had blonde accents on it. He knew it would look great with the aesthetic of their house.  If you look in the photo below, you’ll see how the grain cascades along the sides. He even added the electric during the installation, helping negate the need to bring in an electrician. Our clients will have their fireplace tiled and the cabinets painted soon – we’ll be sure to update with an image when it’s finished.

brokenpress chicago furniture fireplace mantle

Brokenpress also did the electric work during the installation

So don’t let our focus on audio furniture or vinyl record storage make you hesitate contacting us. If you’re in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, need a built in or some type of custom furniture, but aren’t quite sure exactly what you want, please contact us. We can work with you to design something that fits your space and your budget.

Prepping for the Guerrilla Truck Show

We’re very excited to have been selected to join Morlen Sinoway Atelier‘s 10th Annual Guerrilla Truck Show on Tuesday, June 10th.  What is it, you ask? It’s a one-night-only popup design show, using moving trucks at gallery spaces, in Chicago’s Fulton Market. Trucks back up to dock height sidewalks of the area, open up the back of the truck, and boom – there’s your gallery.  The Guerrilla Truck show coincides with Neocon, the world’s largest Contract Furnishings International Trade Fair. We’re excited to be included as one of the sixty trucks in this year’s Guerrila Truck Show and introduce such a large audience to Brokenpress’ Mid-Century modernized furniture. We definitely adhere to their manifesto:

The GUERRILLA Manifesto:
1. To achieve excellence in design
2. To galvanize the design community locally and nationally
3. To select forward thinking individuals that are innovative with both products & display
4. To achieve a high quality of craft and presentation

We’ll be teaming up with Futility Studios for a second time this year. Futility has artfully been bringing the garage into the living room since 2012, and compliments Brokenpress’ furniture well. It’s a great collaboration that we’re excited about. We partnered together for the first time at Retro Rewind in Dubuque in January.

Brokenpress Guerrilla Truck Show Futility Studios Furniture

Futility Studios and Brokenpress Design+Fabrication at Retro Rewind Dubuque

We were part of the 8th annual truck show in 2012 when Brokenpress was intially a side project for Alex. Even though we were new to the scene, Brokenpress was mentioned as one of the favorites by Design Bureau. See some of our images from the 2012 event below.

Brokenpress Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago 2012

The beginning of Brokenpress alongside McBride Housewrights in 2012

Brokenpress Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago 2012

Our humble beginnings with the Brokenpress cocktail credenza and hardwood dining table with inlaid trivet.

Brokenpress Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago 2012

We learned a lot our first time and can’t wait to dazzle the crowd in 2014.

We have big plans for our truck interior this year, and plan on debuting a new item or two at this event. Find out more on the event’s Facebook page, and be sure to stop on by to say hello! Have a specific question? Let us know and we’ll get back to you.

 

The beauty of rift-sawn hardwood

We love working with rift-sawn hardwoods at Brokenpress. Most commercial furniture nowadays is made from man-made board and not hardwood. Both hardwood and man-made board have their advantages, but our preference is rift-sawn hardwoods for long lasting pieces of furniture.

Rift sawing is a technique of cutting boards from logs. Each board is cut along a radius of the original log, so that the saw cuts at right angles to the tree’s growth ring. This produces lumber of great stability and a tighter grain pattern emphasizing the species’ beauty, but with an added cost. The outcome is a gorgeous example of whichever selected species. However, since this process of cutting yields much less than flat sawing, rift-sawing is much less-commonly used than flat sawing. We build most of our coffee tables and surfboard tables with rift-sawn hardwoods, and feel it’s the special edge that makes Brokenpress different.

Brokenpress surfboard table mcm chicago furniture

Finished top – rift sawn hardwood walnut surfboard table

The individual boards are milled from their rough sawn state coming from our favorite lumber yard. Then after jointer and planer passes it’s onto the table saw to final size, and then glued together to create a full panel or table of hardwood. The new larger piece is then sanded in our drumsander to give it an even flatness and glue clean up. From there, we continue to sand the board at various grits to ending with 220 grit then adding multiple layers of finish to make the natural colors pop while giving the piece added durability and easy clean up. It’s a time consuming process, but the end result is something that is extremely durable and gorgeous to look at.

Brokenpress furniture chicago surfboard table

Brokenpress walnut surfboard table in progress.

Another benefit of hardwoods is the ability to repair them. We were at an event selling Brokenpress surfboard and coffee tables. Someone at the event dropped something heavy on one of our tables, making a dent in it. Had a dent like this been in a man-made wood veneer table, similar to what you’ll find a most mainstream furniture stores like Crate and Barrel, Ikea or Ashley Furniture, the table would’ve been ruined. While it was a time-consuming task to refinish the dent out of the table, the hardwood surfboard table was repaired to its original state. You could never have known the table was dented. You can see some of our tables for sale in our Etsy shop.

There are still times where man-made wood veneer furniture is the right choice. We’ll be talking about the types of wood veneer and plywood we use in our other projects soon. Don’t let the word “plywood” scare you – it’s more prevalent in furniture than you’d think.

Contact Brokenpress Design+Fabrication today to find out about having your own hardwood furniture project completed. Live outside of Chicago? That’s ok, we’ll ship, too!

Brokenpress Press Release

Brokenpress Design and Fabrication Debuts Mid-Century Modernized Furniture for Record Store Day

CHICAGO, IL, March 18, 2014 Chicago furniture maker Alexander Dunham launches Brokenpress Design + Fabrication on March 25. Creating handmade furniture from his original designs, Dunham’s work offers a modern take on Mid-Century styles. His signature wood and steel credenza is ideal for audiophiles and the vinyl record resurgence. Vinyl record sales have increased 32% in 2013, and Brokenpress provides furniture designed specifically to store and display all that vinyl. Clean lines and cord management help highlight beautiful wood grains and component pieces.

With over 15 years of general contracting and furniture making experience, Dunham has decided to focus his energy into furniture making full time. His craftsmanship is second to none as he works seamlessly with rift-sawn hardwoods, veneers, and steel.

“The type of wood I use depends on the project,” says Dunham. “Most audio credenzas are walnut, cherry, or birch veneers to keep them lightweight. I use tung oil to bring out the wood’s natural finish. It really makes the wood sing. Tables and deluxe credenzas tend to be rift-sawn hardwood, because the quality, durability, and overall look of hardwood is like nothing else.”

Dunham is a longtime fan of Mid-Century styling and no stranger to music. He is a former member of post-hardcore bands Hoover, Regulator Watts, and Abilene; and has played guitar longer than he has been building furniture.

“I still have records that I collected on tour over twenty years ago,” says Dunham. “I continue to buy vinyl and build my collection, and want something functional and beautiful to store it in.”

While standard sizes are available, Brokenpress builds made-to-order pieces and will customize credenza sizing. That allows for custom height and widths to accommodate clients’ current audio components. The overall design stays consistent, but the subtle customization is what makes Brokenpress unique to the furniture market.

“Some clients need two levels of record storage, while others need only one for records and a smaller secondary shelf. I work with each person to find out exactly what their needs are so I can build precisely to their specs,” Dunham says.

The credenza isn’t limited to audio or home theater components, either. The original credenza design was for cocktail storage or as a traditional buffet.

Hardwood coffee tables by Brokenpress are currently displayed at An Orange Moon in Bucktown and Modern Cooperative in Pilsen. He can be commissioned to fabricate custom millwork from designer drawings and client sketches. Whether you’re looking forward to Mad Men’s final season starting on April 13th, the 7th annual Record Store Day on April 19th, or to have a modern take on a vintage piece of furniture you love, Alex Dunham’s Brokenpress Design and Fabrication (773-798-9908) in Chicago can help outfit your Mid-Century Modern furniture needs.

Website: www.brokenpressdesign.com