There are eight million stories in this besieged city, a few hopeful. We want to shine a light on one story of furniture-makers rising to action during the pandemic to volunteer to fabricate hundreds of face-shields for healthcare workers on the frontlines in New York City hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.
In late March, furniture-maker Stefan Rurak stumbled across an Instagram post on face-shield production by a colleague, Ashira Israel, of IN.SEK Design. Israel provided a breakdown of materials and a .pdf with the design. “The credit goes to her,” says Rurak. IN.SEK “seeks to challenge the current system and its disposable, wasteful culture — creating in the way of our ancestors with intention and enduring spirit and beauty …”
Rurak’s face-shield production quickly became leaner, faster and more efficient. Based in Brooklyn, Rurak’s studio seeks to “defy conventional boundaries, merging modern conceptual design with time-honored craftsmanship.” In the face of the pandemic, especially hard-hitting in New York City, Rurak says his “was a simple reaction — how can we help?”
Rurak was “motivated by not wanting to be passive, wanting to be engaged. Some can give money, some give their time and skills. Anything in this dire situation.” He works with a wide range of materials and prides himself on making pretty much anything. Rurak and his co-worker found it challenging to source materials as what was required was in very high demand.
“I have always considered myself blessed that I am able to make a living creating beautiful objects,” reflects Rurak. “At this moment I consider myself blessed that I can make something tangible that can potentially save lives. In the long-haul, what will come of this pandemic experience I’m not sure. It will undoubtedly influence my creative output in some unforeseen way.”
Many other colleagues in the sustainable furniture-making, furnishings and materials community have risen to the occasion. They have helped during this crisis to keep our heads together, our bodies healthy, our spirits high and our colleagues employed. We wanted to offer a shout-out to a handful:
- Refoundry “trains formerly incarcerated people to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings.” Thank you for shifting gears to provide resources for remote training, continue to pay participant salaries and provide supplemental income to recent graduates.
- Sawkill Lumber “introduces beautiful, locally-sourced reclaimed wood back into the world.” Thank you for reminding us that, while “reclaimed wood can’t respond to our most critical medical needs,” these unprecedented times “will require an unequaled reclamation of our health and economy, and … salvage can be a part of that.”
- Brooklyn Woods offers training in woodworking and fabrication skills to unemployed and low-income New Yorkers. Thank you for adapting quickly to offer free, on-line classes to your constituents.
- Autonomous Furniture is committed to “furniture for modern living spaces designed for you.” Thank you for taking stock that “the pandemic has highlighted for us why we started our business as – home is your sanctuary, a place of comfort and peace.”
- Laurence Carr Design “enhances well-being through design.” Thank you for providing the insight that “we are part of the front lines of responding to the mental health and wellbeing challenges that isolation and redefinition of the home have inspired.”