Visually tasty contrasting black layered over natural oak tones define our Black & Tan grades to create a dynamic and durable canvas. We’ve reclaimed the oak fence boards from mid-west farms where they spent years on farm duty, experiencing the elements and the animals. The mix of red and white oak has distinct character which we’ve classified into a few standard grades: Black & Tan—50/50, Black & Tan—Tan, and Black & Tan—Black.
When we salvage Black & Tan, each board is layered with eco and animal-friendly black paint that we celebrate in each grade.
Creative client requests and our finishing team’s inspiration have made Black & Tan a go-to for additional surfacing (such as saw marks, wire brushing, and Raked) or including a bit more color.
We’ve been talking about Thoughtful Sophistication™ a lot in our studios; what it means to us and what we hope it means to others. Of course, there’s ourThoughtful Sophistication collection—but it’s more than just the products and finishes you see. It’s a way to move Beyond the Barn™ to see the other side of reclaimed wood, options that are sleek and modern with a soul.
However, nothing good comes from just talking in your own bubble, so we reached out to some of our design friends to get their take on what Thoughtful Sophistication means to them, what they see as the next wave in interiors, and how they stay inspired as a creative.
Susanne Angarano, Principal and Interior Designer at Ashley McGraw in Syracuse, NY.
I had the fantastic opportunity to chat with Susanne Angarano, Principal + Interior Designer at Ashley McGrawin Syracuse, NY. The architectural design firm creates spaces where people are inspired to work, learn, collaborate, and play—or “design with purpose”, as they say. Susanne’s work is mostly in educational spaces.
D: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today Susanne, I really appreciate it. Tell me more about your work in sustainable design.
S: Thanks, of course. I started my education in Interior Design and got my masters in Sustainable Design. I landed at Ashley McGraw because it’s a very design AND sustainability focused firm full of people very passionate about both. Our firm is very deeply rooted in sustainable building science and holistic sustainability which is my passion. We have a great balance of the science and the ecological in our sustainable approach and I love how they synthesize together in our designs.
Is holistic sustainability the next step for design?
S: I think so. We take a lot of our direction from International Living Future Institute’s Living Buildings Challenge—what I would call a holistic design approach. It looks at the science behind the energy, water, and site—but also materiality, beauty, social justice, and environmental justice—it’s a great framework to use. I think that even if projects aren’t going towards this certification it’s a great guiding principle for projects so that sustainability can become more than just energy usage or recycling to end-users and clients.
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
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
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.
Josh has been a member of our team for over a decade. If there’s a forklift moving around in our yard, Josh is most likely driving as he handles all of our inventory. He’s as accurate as our inventory software when it comes to answering “what’s in the yard?” off the top of his head. After a little cajoling, Josh shared more about himself:
How long have you been part of our team?
12 years! Pioneer Millworks and New Energy Works [our sister company] is a great community. We invest in our employees and I have had many opportunities to advance. I’m proud of our ethos and the incredible work we do. Also, we’re always finding new sources of wood. Sometimes it’s a small batch of locally sourced material…other times, we find vast quantities and develop new product lines around them. The products themselves are ever-changing and that keeps things interesting.
What do you like about living and working in Upstate NY?
As someone who loves the outdoors, what’s not to love about the Finger Lakes? I love the geography here; the hills, valleys, and glacial lakes…Not to mention, we’ve got an inland sea just a few miles to the north. More importantly, I come from a large family and most of us live in the area.
De-nailing and acquisition: Bryan, Josh, and Alex circa 200(?)
What’s your history with the company?
I started as an entry-level nail puller years ago. I’d just quit a horrible job and needed something temporary to pay the bills. I never thought I’d be here for over a decade, but it’s a great place!
What is your role on our team?
I supervise the yard/de-nailing team and manage our inventory. I’m also part of the acquisitions team.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
There’s always a challenging project going on, always something new and unexpected.
Which product is your favorite?
I’m terrible at choosing favorites. If I have to pick, right now, I’m really digging our Black & Tan [shown above in the 50/50 grade] I love when the wood has a story to tell.
Speaking of stories, you must have a fun story or two from your years here… Several years back Alex and I took a trip to Bethlehem, PA to load some industrial salvaged Heart Pine timbers and decking. Alex beat me at a game of pool that night and as a result I had to eat scrapple, and only scrapple, for breakfast the next morning. It was the first and only time I’ve eaten scrapple (a Pennsylvania breakfast staple apparently). When I ordered only scrapple the waitress gave me an incredulous look….I had to explain that I’d lost a bet. [Alex and Josh (above) remain friends and coworkers and still share the occasional ‘bet’.]
When ‘hover cat’ stormed the Internet, we debated on replacing Josh’s forklift with this new ride…always a good sport, Josh still chuckles when we bring this photo up.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Between keeping tabs on my 3 year old son and minor projects around the house we bought earlier this year, I haven’t had much spare time. Too many hobbies to list but a few big ones: I enjoy fishing, hiking, gardening, home brewing, and playing guitar.
What’s your favorite book?
I could never pick a favorite…there are just too many. A couple of the better things I’ve read recently are “Suttree” by Cormac McCarthy and “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.