One of the exciting aspects of working with a diverse range of furniture makers is learning about the inspiration and building process behind their products. With environmental sustainability and good design as a common thread, each approaches creativity in a unique way. 

We wanted to learn from two furniture-makers who both happen to be husband-wife teams who work with reclaimed wood and clear materials. 

  • durodeco (Rachel Robinson and Michael Dunham), based in Queens, New York
  • Autonomous Furniture (Kirk Van Ludwig and Jodie Webb), based in British Columbia Canada

Both shops experiment with design that juxtaposes two very different materials, combining reclaimed wood with glass or acrylic. In the interviews below we explore their inspirations:

Tillikum Bench by Autonomous Furniture

Q:  What underlies your design choice to combine reclaimed wood and a clear material

durodeco:The transparency and crisp contemporary nature of simple glass legs offer a stark contrast to the reclaimed wood’s rustic appearance. Our design choices almost always begin with materials, and texture plays a big part in our ultimate decision. With the Sawtooth Bench we wanted to play a bit, by also giving the reclaimed Oak — like the glass — a fine polished finish.”  

AUTONOMOUS:  “We feel it’s important to honour the wood, the soul of our furniture. Therefore our intention is for the eye to be drawn to what mother nature created and less to joinery and base. Acrylic allows light and energy to pass through the piece and in some regards defies gravity.  We use clear, museum grade acrylic with eased edges.”

Shima Desk by Autonomous Furniture

Q:  If you could wave a magic wand, what would be the next furniture piece you’d love to create combining reclaimed wood with glass or acrylic?   

durodeco: “We’d love to create a large formal dining table from reclaimed mass timber and give it the same fine finish and details that we typically use. Reclaimed materials are often rough and rustic and we think the artistry is in transforming that into something finer and more modern.”

AUTONOMOUS:  “This might sound crazy, but I’ve fantasized about building an acrylic bike frame, which of course would be tricked out in wood handle bars for the purpose of auction to fund a design for a sleep-worthy bike trailer intended for homelessness.” 

Sawtooth Bench by durodeco

Q:  What else would you like to tell us? 

durodeco: “Our biggest stumbling block is consistent access to quality source materials. The form of the Sawtooth bench is derived from its namesake: the teeth of a saw blade.  We wanted to explore creating a furniture piece that geometrically mimics the form of the tool used to create it. We combined a series of oak boards (formerly barn boards) into a butcher-block configuration with sawtooth edges running along the bottom edge.”  

AUTONOMOUS:  “Acrylic is such a stable and hardy material, our furniture is intended to last generations.  From a sustainability standpoint, we began using acrylic out of an attraction to this material’s use in the 1960’s and 70’s.  However, we soon discovered during production that cut offs could be used in other parts of our furniture — such as brackets, gussets, and cleats. So we now yield less than 5% waste.  From there we recycle the shavings and waste back into more acrylic.”

Sawtooth Bench by durodeco

Shima Desk by Autonomous Furniture

Diving deeper into the worlds of our furniture makers reveals the thoughtfulness that goes into each design. We love to learn about this diversity of thought and inspiration. We’re constantly amazed by the depth of creativity and passion.