Design Week Portland Artist Feature: Branches Furniture

Joel and Alyse Knudson

Joel & Alyse Knudson

 

Joel & Alyse Knudson opened Branches Furniture in 2013. Together with their three children (and Buster the dog), they have found their place in Canby, Oregon. Going outside the metro area allowed them to nestle in an acre getaway with all the space they needed to thrust Branches Furniture off the ground.

We spent some time talking with Joel at Branches’ Canby escape; here’s what he had to say about Lynard Skynard, the Corvallis bridge, and the muse of his wife.

1. How would you refer to yourself? Woodworker? Artisan? Craftsman?
Creator and builder.

2. How did you get started?
Building things as a kid. I remember whittling a marshmallow roasting stick, but the first real project was a cutting board in junior high shop class.

3. Why wood?
It’s beautiful, it’s organic, and has personality and warmth. It has a history—I like that it tells a story.

4. What does being creative meant to you?
It allows me to go where my mind takes me. It’s about going places where other people have not gone before—finding new ways to build.

5. Do you have any rituals?
Not really, but I do drink a lot of coffee and listen to music while I work.

6. So what’s playing in the shop then?
Right now it’s Simple Man, by Lynyrd Skynyrd

7. What is your favorite piece?
Whatever I’m currently working on. And I’m proud of the Sampele dining table that built for our home. Really, I’m proud of most of the pieces I’ve built.

Sampele dining table

Sampele dining table

8. Who inspires you?
Alyse doesn’t want me to say this, but she inspires me. I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for her encouragement. But if I had to pick one person who isn’t my wife, I would pick Jory Brigham. He does beautiful, unique work. He’s also created a successful business; his success is an inspiration.

9. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
I don’t know about communicating. I just want to create pieces that last generations. I want them to be unique, affordable, and accessible for most people. I want them to be functional works of art.

10. If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I don’t know. It took me 40 years to find this.

11. What is the ultimate piece you want to create?
I’d like to build a whole house from scratch. It would be everything I want, exactly how I want.

12. What’s your favorite thing about PDX?
The creativeness and entrepreneurial spirit of the area. How everyone respects the environment, it’s inspiring. I don’t think you’ll find such creative environments in other parts of the country; I probably wouldn’t be doing this if I were in Ohio.

Project for Design Week Portland - Bench will have a lounge feature and book storage

Project for Design Week Portland – Bench will have a lounge feature and book storage

 

13. Favorite bridge?
The covered bridge in Corvallis.

14. Favorite neighborhood?
No favorite, but I love my shop.

15. What’s your favorite tool?
My hands.

Join Joel and Alyse from Branches Furniture at read:grain, works with reclaimed wood on Friday, April 28th from 4-7pm during Design Week Portland. For more information, go here.

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A Place for the Fans: Biggio’s in Houston Takes Wood to the Next Level

biggio for blog headerIn January we showed you Ohio State University’s Newark campus where we salvaged what we could of their old bleachers.  Today we’re sharing bleacher boards in their second life at the newest Houston TX sport’s bar, Biggio’s.

Biggios Bleacher boards Houston by pioneerAstros Baseball Hall of Fame Member Craig Biggio and the Marriott Marquis Houston formed a partnership which includes the new sports bar named Biggio’s. The eatery is a sprawling two level space overlooking Discovery Green. Leading the decor lineup is a wall of TV screens that span two stories. Not to be missed is a variety of sports-minded design details, including the bar front showcasing the Craig Biggio’s wooden bats and various expanses of our Reclaimed Bleacher Boards.

hostess biggios houston pioneer bleacher“This product was meant to be for the Biggio’s space! [Pioneer Millworks] happened to be in our office when we were finalizing plans and you introduced us to this perfect option that could be extremely unique for the space. It was something we had never done before and knew it could be a risk, but it sure turned out to be one worth taking. Since the reclaimed bleacher wood could be from anywhere, we wanted to make sure we had pieces that could tie back to the story of the Houston sports scene that surrounds the Houston Marriott Marquis from almost all directions – the Astros Minute Maid Park being the closest. We knew that the guests of this sports bar would truly appreciate this unique product- it’s so fun to think of the stories that are “within the wood.”” notes Julianne Cary of Looney Associates, leading hospitality designers.

Biggios Bleacher boards Houston - 7-EditAiming to meet the budget and time frame for Biggio’s, our team including Carolyn, Roblyn, and Alex put their skills together landing on reclaimed bleacher boards. The boards for Biggio’s were sourced from several different salvage projects including: Hinsdale High School, Illinois; Pittsburg State University, Kansas; Altoona High School, Pennsylvania. Biggio’s embraced and celebrated the original grey paint [from the Pittsburg reclamation] and the labels/numbers [from Altoona], giving them predominate space behind the Biggo’s main level sign, the elevator walls, on the hostess station, and surrounding booth seating.

bleacher board elevator wall biggio texas pioneer millworks

Pittsburg State bleacher board reclaim.

Pittsburg State bleacher board reclaim.

 

Altoona bleacher board reclaim.

Altoona High School bleacher board reclaim.

The sports bar has local Texas ingredients prepared in unexpected ways and some familiar ways too. Chicken wings, loaded nachos, a giant pretzel, guac and chips to Texas caviar served with tortillas and bison chili. Entrees include chicken and potatoes or chicken and waffles to Texas wild boar Bolognese with pasta and red-fish with corn and succotash. There are various and changing draft beer selections on each level and crafted cocktails featuring spirits from local and small craft distilleries.

upper level seating biggio w bleacher boardsSeating options are numerous inside Biggo’s, ranging from the large central bar, to cushy chair/sofa combinations, to high-top tables, to semi-private booths and group boxes, to a long line of soft chairs facing the two level televisions and a smaller, boutique-like second level bar. Each area is accented with a mixture of bleacher planks adorning the walls.

reclaimed bleacher plank walls booths pioneerBleacher boards used for atmosphere and celebrated as sports memorabilia – Biggio’s has given us another exciting venue to experience the character, food, and fun of Houston!

 

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Raw and Honest: Revitalizing “Old Town” Portland and Shifting Spaces in Seattle

“Old town” Portland is an area with a lot of history, some of it grand, some of it not so savory. We’re excited to see this area on the up and up. One of the most recent tenants? Our friends at Ankrom Moisan Architects (AMA).

ama-new-portland-officeAMA specializes in urban architecture and recently moved their Portland offices to the new 38 Davis Building at the corner of Northwest Davis Street and Northwest Naito Parkway. The firm’s 227 Portland employees now find their work spaces on three floors and 58,000-square feet of the six-story building. The AMA team is aiming for LEED Silver certification at this new location. Within the space is a variety of storied wood bringing different history to the “Old town”.

reclaimed-softwoods-in-ama-office-by-pioneerIn the words of AMA, “Through a deliberate combination of raw, honest, and playful elements, our new workplace will better express our thought processes as we work to continually elevate design.” Exposed beams and columns, heavy steel, contemporary furniture and muted colors are joined by reclaimed hardwoods and softwoods throughout the office. The new spaces use these raw and honest elements to celebrate structure and design.

reclaimed-softwoods-ceiling-ama-portland-by-pioneerThe main conference room immediately piqued our interest with its partially painted table top. (Perhaps our conference table is in need of a new inspired finish…) The AMA conference room incorporates lighter, reflective tones on each surface. American Prairie Painted fit the plan offering brighter surfaces allowing light reflection while highlighting original surfaces acquired from their past life cladding agricultural structures.

Subtle yet powerful punches of color appear throughout AMA in Portland. In meeting areas reminiscent of booth seating Black & Tan 50/50 paneling is accented with opaque orange and blue planks. We’re loving these meeting pods; offering privacy in a more compact footprint is something we could definitely get into for our showroom/office spaces!

ama-reclaimed-oak-booth-meeting-space

Sourced from fences in the southern states, we partially plane each plank. Because no two planks are alike and each has natural variation in thickness, individual boards have a different level of surfacing, resulting in truly random areas of untouched black paint.

reclaimed-black-and-tan-5050-oak-seating-ama-office-portlandThe lobby area desk is wrapped with Grandma’s Attic Reclaimed Softwoods and has that punch of color with bright yellow wall art.

ama-portland-reclaimed-wood-desk-wrap-from-pioneerThe unrestrained design experience will be shared with co-workers and clients alike in a central meeting room. AMA notes the creative process “takes each participant through an array of knowledge, references, emotions, and memories.” Here they’ve incorporated Black & Tan 50/50 at an angle to create a mosaic of wall paneling which spills from the wall onto the ceiling.

black-and-tan-5050-reclaimed-oak-portland-architect-meeting-room-webportland-architect-office-reclaimed-oak-paneling-from-pioneer

black-and-tan-5050-reclaimed-oak-ceiling-vent

AMA crafted a vent by carving into Black & Tan planks. (This reminds us a bit of our ‘raked’ reclaimed wood – more on that in another post.)

A bit further up the coast, the AMA office in Seattle, WA grew quickly from a team of 3 to a group of 100 scattered throughout two buildings and multiple floors. In order to support their culture of collaboration and innovation, in early 2016 the teams relocated to Seattle’s downtown core. Preserving the authenticity of their space, structural elements were left raw and exposed. Reclaimed American Gothic Engineered Ash brings warm tones while remaining understated in the Seattle office.

seattle-architect-ag-ash_floorFocused on community, AMA designed the Seattle studio “to be welcoming to clients, visitors, consultants, and the wider design community as well. The core of the suite serves the public, and includes multiple conference rooms, a great room/lounge, materials library, print room, and model shop.”  An open stairway connects the two floors and allows a seamless flow of  Reclaimed Ash between levels.

seattle-architect-ag-ash_stairsReclaimed Ash moves up from the floor to a long meeting table within the Seattle AMA office.Reclaimed Ash moves up from the floor to a long meeting table within the Seattle AMA office.

 

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The Barrow House: A ‘sleek farmhouse’ restaurant and parlor.

Sleek farmhouse. Not commonly paired together, but that is the result of The Barrow House restaurant and parlor in Clifton, New Jersey. Assorted rooms are strung together with eclectic decor sure to feed the hipster in all of us.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWhen we first started talking with Dean and Thomas about their vision for their restaurant, we were excited to learn how much they appreciated the history of the barn/restaurant space they were re-working. It was first started as a steakhouse building that housed other restaurants over the years with countless additions and alterations made for each one along the way.

settlers-plank-flooring-by-pioneer-millworksDean and Thomas wanted to maintain the rambling concept and celebrate the imperfections that might come along with such a storied past including roughly textured wood, chipping plaster, varied colors, original artifacts, and different flooring throughout the space. Parlor, bar, farm food – what could be better? Now that they’re open, let’s peek inside some of its remarkable spaces.

reclaimed-foundry-maple-and-barn-front-pioneer-millworks

Cocktails on tap, a solid selection of beer, and cider…it was hard to move past the bar. But we’d be doing a disservice to this blog if we didn’t mention the wood: Decades of water over pouring over the surface of our River Skins (cladding the bar front) give it a driftwood texture, raising the knots and grain reminding us of drift wood.

 

Overall Pioneer Millworks provided 12 different reclaimed wood materials which were used throughout the restaurant on a variety of surfaces. In the bar area you’re greeted with a variety of libations including cocktails on tap and cider. The space has Foundry Maple flooring while the ceiling is clad with an original-whitewashed V-groove siding. When the Dean mentioned wanting the bar front to look like an old boat haul, we immediately suggested River Skins. These skins were cut from the outsides of Douglas Fir timbers that were once used for rafts to float hardwood logs downstream to sawmills in southern Canada. What we love most are the details that pepper the space like vintage hooks added to the bar front, a convenient place to hang your hat (or purses, of course).

inside-out-barrow-house-reclaimed-wood-pioneerAcross from the bar, the outside is…inside – a whimsical result of the building’s add-on history. There’s something to discover in each pocket that makes up The Barrow House, which is part of the fun.

telephone-box-barrow-house

Our Settlers’ Plank grade celebrates original saw marks, nail holes, ferrous staining, and other signs of its previous life.Much of the dining area has Settlers’ Plank Oak flooring in random wide widths, a favorite choice for a restaurant. The inevitable wear and tear blends easily into the original character (think: saw marks, nail holes, insect trails, ferrous staining) common to this grade.

taxidermy-barrow-house-corner-cabient

Another gem. An old-school built-in corner cabinet updated with lighting and three dimensional ‘art work’.

 

Throughout the restaurant are different grades of American Prairie (our version for that popular barn siding look). Boards salvaged from agricultural wood that were once heavily painted but have been worn and chipped away at by time. The Barrow House highlights paneling with paint ranging from nearly opaque to light remnants in yellow, red, and white. Weathered brown boards, having developed their deep chocolate color through a century of high temperatures inside agricultural structures, adorn vertical surfaces in several different spaces within the restaurant. All those chocolatey tones wet the appetite for dessert.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWandering a bit further, you’ll discover the wine room. Stone walls frame the back-lit wine cabinets (which hold a very nice list of vino) surrounding a large farm-syle table. Overhead Mushroom Boards clad the ceiling, offering higher texture and deep color that plays off of Settler’s Plank Oak floor.

 

 

wine-behind-glass-the-barrow-houseWhen you’re outside, you arrive at a classic wrap-around porch and American Prairie Brown Board on the exterior of the winding spaces. The barn shows off American Prairie Painted, salvaged a number of years ago from the classic red barns common throughout the northeast. The barn and wrap-around porch are actually Douglas Fir timber frames designed and erected by our sister company, New Energy Works Timberframers.

Our desire to keep the American tradition and history of agricultural barns alive and well has lead us on a journey of discovering additional sources of softwoods that offer the same character we love in barn wood, but are from more sustainable sources. We’ve found planks from fences, livestock pens, and other less historical exterior facades to supplement our barn wood collection. the-barrow-house-nj-reclaimed-barn-siding-pioneer-2new-energy-works-timber-frame-at-the-barrow-houseInside the timber frame you’ll see more American Prairie and a one-of-a-kind thresher floor milled from stock reclaimed from barn structures as well. We were happy to see this floor, it isn’t one you’ll find on our website, but it is a good example of project collaboration. We love when conversations lead to use of an uncommon material where its character can be celebrated. Our favorite part though, is the roof of the barn timber frame. It retracts half-way, letting diners literally sit under the stars!

the-barrow-house-parlor-njWe really enjoyed working with Dean and Thomas to find the perfect materials for all the various needs of their project. We can’t say enough about the unique experience they’ve created with The Barrow House or the fun Jered and Jennifer recently had exploring. Our suggestion is that when you visit you plan to time to wander.

Unique, rare, atypical – hey, that’s what makes our jobs fun and your projects outstanding. Thanks Dean and Thomas!

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