Tagged ‘mid-century modern‘

Vinyl Storage for Audiophiles

Today’s article is a repost from 2014.

We’re big fans of music at Brokenpress. Alex has played music for over twenty years, in post-hardcore bands Hoover and Regulator Watts in Washington, D.C. and Abilene in Chicago. After a big of a hiatus from music, he’s excited to start playing again. My musical knowledge is limited to a chuck wagon triangle, but it’s always been a big part of my life. Together we have, and keep building, a great vinyl collection.

At first, our audio furniture and vinyl pieces came out of a need for storage, and has since evolved to be prototypes for Brokenpress designs.

Brokenpress Audio Storage Vinyl Records Chicago

One of our largest pieces created is a media library center which focuses around my father’s 1976 Kenwood KR-9600. This was the receiver to have during the monster-wars of the 1970’s. I have memories of hopping out of my mom’s car to check the mail, and hearing Dirty Deeds by AC/DC  blaring out of the house that was over 200 feet away. While it gathered dust in my dad’s basement for more than a decade, it’s now the centerpiece of a Brokenpress audio / media shelving unit.  It’s almost at capacity!

Since that piece is almost filled, where else can our records go? We came up with the perfect solution and married our love of vinyl with the need for more seating in our living room. Our bungalow has a beautiful front room with eight windows. The room is long with radiators flanking the sides of the room, making it difficult to put a couch near the front window.  The Brokenpress Design + Fabriction solution? An audio media storage bench. It’s following the same clean lines of the large audio/ media library piece: Baltic birch with white oak plugs, mounted on a steel base. The height is perfect for sitting, and the window sill can be used to hold your cocktail or snack plate when having a party and watching the new season of Mad Men. We’ll add cushions in the near future.  It’s currently holding part of Alex’s vintage radio collection, but we hope to have it filled soon with some great used record finds.


Looking for some ideas for your own audio storage? Contact Brokenpress and let us come up with a solution perfect for your needs.

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!

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.


Our first official ad in Atomic Ranch magazine

Starting out a business isn’t as easy as one would think. For many years I did graphic design work in the evenings and the weekends. I never really thought much about professional advertising. However, I knew Alex’s work needed to be in front of the right audience. After spending an afternoon picking up magazines at City News, we came across Atomic Ranch. I used to subscribe years ago when I was living a modern condo life. I don’t know why I forgot about it, but when brought the issue home, we immediately renewed our subscription. After a couple of weeks we thought where else would be a better place for Alex to advertise Brokenpress? I emailed and fortunately we were able to make it in by the Spring issue’s deadline.

Mid-Century Modernized Advertisement for Brokenpress Design in Chicago

Our first official ad – great outside of page placement!

Today two copies arrived in the mail – our subscriber copy and our advertiser copy. It’s their 10th anniversary issue and it features a lovely property in Chicago. We hope this helps give Brokenpress an introduction to the larger mid-century modern audience that his work fits so well into. If you haven’t looked at Atomic Ranch before, pick up a copy today. If you see it, please contact us via Facebook or here and tell us what you thought of it!


Brokenpress Design Midcentury modern furniture Chicago

Atomic Ranch’s 10th Anniversary Issue – Spring 2014