Tagged ‘independent furniture maker‘

Groove in the Lounge during the Fine Arts Building’s Second Friday

Chicago is known as one of the best cities in the world for architecture. One of the oldest structures along Michigan Avenue has been around since 1885:  the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue. It’s been known as the “Nation’s Oldest Artist Colony,” but that’s not how it began.  It was first known as the Studebaker Building from 1885 – 1898 as their carriage assembly and showroom. According to the Fine Arts’ website, in 1890, the Studebaker brothers added 4 stories for the Art Institute to the building, which helps explain the two styles to the building’s exterior.

Brokenpress Fine Arts Building Chicago

The beautiful 410 S. Michigan Avenue

In 1898 there was an extensive renovation, and then it became known as an Artist’s Studio building. Artists, sculptors, writers, musicians and architects used these studios for over 100 years. In 1961, the Artists Cafe  opened and remains a staple on Michigan Avenue with it’s charming lighted sign and counter seating. There’s free wi-fi, too!

Brokenpress Fine Arts Building Futility

Artists Cafe at 410 S. Michigan Avenue

Besides the Fine Art Building’s gorgeous exterior, it’s the restored interior which is definitely worth seeing. The elevators are original and still use hand operators; that alone is worth stopping in! You can tour the building alone or take a proper tour.

Brokenpress Fine Arts building chicago

Grab an elevator on the left

The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a $10 tour the first Tuesday of every month.  If you don’t want to wait until August, then stop on by this Friday, July 11th from 5pm – 9pm, and explore all ten floors for free during their Second Friday Open Studios tour.

Brokenpress Fine Arts building chicago

When you’re there, be sure to take a hand-operated elevator ride to the 5th floor to see Chicago Custom Costumes‘ gallery space.  Vintage vinyl will be spun in the mid-century modernized lounge created by Chicago’s Brokenpress Design+Fabrication and Futility Studios.  Brokenpress Design+Fabrication’s creates stunning furniture using fallen Chicago trees, along with steel and aluminum. Brokenpress’ main focus is audio component and vinyl record storage, but this lounge will feature rift-sawn hardwood tables and the Plotkin hutch in addition to the signature audio credenza. With vinyl making a big comeback, people need a place to store their records. Brokenpress offers many solutions. Futility Studios artfully brings the garage into the living room by reconstructing vintage car and motorcycle parts as unique lights suitable for any home, grotto, or (man)cave. Together, they pair up wonderfully.

Groove along with vintage sounds in their lounge on the 5th floor from 5-9pm this Friday, and enjoy the studios and works of other artists throughout the building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue. If you can’t make it, the Brokenpress and Futility lounge will be on display through July.

Brokenpress Futility fine arts chicago

Don’t miss the  Brokenpress and Futility Lounge on the 5th floor


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!

A wet & wonderful Guerrilla Truck Show

We had a great, albeit wet, time at last Tuesday’s 10th annual Guerrilla Truck Show hosted by Morlen Sinoway Atelier in Chicago’s Fulton Market. We were excited to share a space with Joe Wislar of Futility Studios highlighting Alex’s furniture and Joe’s lighting.

We were in the Guerrilla Truck show in 2012, and if you’re not familiar with it, the concept is 60 small moving trucks turn into pop-up spaces/showrooms for artists, designers and furniture makers for one night in June during Neo-Con. For the 10th annual show this year, there were over 200 applicants, and we were excited to be one of the sixty trucks selected to participate in the show.

While the concept seems pretty easy, there’s a lot of prep work done. You start with a blank canvas, er, empty truck, and the goal is to make it inviting for people to come in and view your work.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

This is what we start with

Since our truck rental was only for 24 hours, both Alex and Joe planned the layout as they loaded the truck with their pieces. The wonderful part of Brokenpress partnering with Futility is how the rich colors of Alex’s furniture mix well with the sleek chrome/metal of Joe’s lighting designs. Alex’s pieces have very modern lines from wood grain and steel and aluminum bases while Joe’s pieces uses tactile vintage car parts with bulbs that are best described as ornamental. There’s a definite vintage, mid-century to both their styles that compliment each other perfectly.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Planning up the mockup

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Almost there!

The rain was intermittent throughout the afternoon, but we were ready at 3:30 to roll into our space.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

In the queue ready to roll in.

We had a great spot right on Fulton, in the middle of 23 other trucks. It was exciting to see the mix of art, furniture and design objects next to one another.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Even with a gloomy sky, the skyline looks fantastic.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Setting up shop

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

We were ready right at 5:30

We worked hard on making the space not look like the inside of a truck. We wanted to create an actual space to experience our work. We wanted to mimic a living room, including carpet tiles, a chair and vintage vinyl records spinning on our turntable, hearing them through Brokenpress’ rift-sawn white oak speakers with vintage grill cloth. What were we listening to? You just needed to check out what record was up on our record rail to get your answer.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

We’re big fans of the Man from U.N.C.L.E soundtrack… Volume 2!

Even with all the people coming in and out of the truck all night, we never had a skip on the record! Our signature audio credenza featured a record stop, which made it easy to search for our next record to spin without having it shift to the back of the credenza.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

There was lots of interest throughout the night

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Rift-sawn white oak surfboard tables welcome you into the space

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Alex telling people about our bar cart prototype

Despite the torrential downpour, we met a lot of great people enjoyed our pieces, the music and our space. The only complaint from our guests was there wasn’t any alcohol in our bar cart! We had a great time, hope we made some new fans of Brokenpress’ mid century modernized furniture. Thanks to all for supporting our mid-century modernized furniture that’s handmade in Chicago.  If you want to see some of our items before next year’s show, contact us and to schedule a time to meet us.

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Alex and Secretary Ladybird™ braving the rain

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

Alex and Joe

Guerrilla Truck Show Chicago Brokenpress Furniture 2014

End of the night. Looking forward to next year!

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!