Big timbers, clean wood, rugged wood—all local! Three iconic buildings in Portland, Oregon have reached the end of their lifecycle and we’re bringing you the salvaged timbers, boards, and more:
After nearly 100 years in business, Fishels Furniture, known best for patio furniture, closed its doors in 2016 as owner Larry Talbott sought a new chapter in life having spent 40 years owning/running the business. Photo: Lynch Sales Co.
The old Fishels Furniture building on Martin Luther King Blvd. at Burnside bridge has yielded Douglas fir timbers fit to go back into use as they are or to be re-sawn into crisp board stock with unlimited uses. In more good news: some of the wood reclaimed from the building is going back into the new construction that’s happening there.
Reclaimed Douglas fir timbers from the Mersman Table Factory found new life in a Portland, OR home. Photo by Loren Nelson.
Folks that are passionate about a hobby, their profession, their home, a color, an author, a material, a movement—about anything at all—are fun to talk with. Their enthusiasm is often infectious and they always have something new (and many times unknown to others) to share. I found myself having such a conversation with Roblyn. A naturally creative and design passionate person, armed with an Interior Design degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), she has helped many of our clients achieve just what they envisioned with our wood products. Her excitement about color and textures or the latest and greatest in the design world is genuine. It comes across within moments of meeting her. We found comfortable spots in our lounge to chat about what she’s seeing in the design world, what role Thoughtful Sophistication plays, and what she expects we’ll all see more of in the future:
Megan: Thanks for taking the time to chat.
Roblyn: Of course!
M: I wanted to pick your brain a bit. I know you’re into design and often take what you see and create your own experience; personalize it. And you bring that to clients. So what do you think is the next wave, the next trend in our industry?
R: I think we’ll continue to see an aesthetic where designers are taking existing spaces and materials and incorporating them into a modern environment without losing the history or value of what already existed. We’re definitely in a time where there’s a strong desire to celebrate the history—and story—of our environments while marrying them with new elements and the high tech products we want and need to live and work with.
Pioneer Millworks American Gothic Mixed Hardwoods reclaimed paneling
Cruising into a new space with views of the Sound and reclaimed wood! We couldn’t think of a better fit for a major cruise line’s new headquarters than our Reclaimed Smooth Teak flooring.
Designed by SkB Architects, the new corporate office will allow the Holland America Group to consolidate their 900+ employees in a modernized work environment. Located on Pudget Sound in Seattle, the headquarters interior pays homage to traditional boat decking with Reclaimed Teak, a classic boat-building material, throughout the offices and common areas.
The layout for ‘work’ levels has cubicles flowing around the perimeter of each floor with offices, conference rooms, and flex space occupying the center. On the second level, an emergency response center, training & conference rooms, and eatery are all shod with Reclaimed Teak. The Teak also flows from floor to stairs and benches in several areas.
Over 14,000 square feet of the salvaged Teak, with an all natural oil/wax finish, found new life throughout all six levels of Holland America’s new building. The wood unifies each level, offering incredible durability and warm tones to the various work areas.
Our Teak is reclaimed from retired structures — office buildings, homes, boats, and factories in Indonesia. Teak maintains the authentic beauty of 18th and 19th-century planks. With an extremely hardwearing surface, it’s the ultimate specification for lasting value. It is milled from certified FSC® Recycled 100% Teak to exacting industry standards for nail down installation and finishing.
One percent of all of our Reclaimed Teak sales are donated to conservation causes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Currently, we’re supporting the Borneo Project in their fight to end the loss of habitat for the indigenous peoples of Indonesia.
Various finishes and surfaces, fit for every design style, are available on our Surface Selector.
Bryan Danger started Zenbox Design after a May 2014 article in the New York Times featuring he and his partner Jen’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) garnered a lot of attention. Bryan has a master of Architecture from UofO but moved into Graphic Design and somehow found himself working in a high-tech corporate office for 14 years. After a year driving through Mexico and Central America in their 67 VW Bus, Bryan and Jen moved back to Portland to start on their new path. The problem? They had renters in their home. Solution? They had a 480-square foot garage that wasn’t being used. They designed and built out the garage into a cozy living space. Word got out quickly and readers and neighbors alike were demanding Bryan design their ADU and custom furniture. Hesitant at first, the couple wanted to keep their new found “nomadic balance”. Though they had been working with neighbors for free for some time, zenbox design was officially born and takes on a few clients every year for custom homes and furniture. The rest of the time the couple rents their garage on
The problem? They had renters in their home. Solution? They had a 480-square foot garage that wasn’t being used. They designed and built out the garage into a cozy living space. Word got out quickly and folks started requesting Bryan design their ADU and custom furniture. Hesitant at first, the couple wanted to keep their new found “nomadic balance”. Though they had been working with neighbors for free for some time, Zenbox Design was officially born and takes on a few clients every year for custom homes and furniture. The rest of the time the couple rents their garage on Airbnb and travels with their dog, Karma, around the continent in their custom sprintervan (another Zenbox project).
1. How would you refer to yourself? Woodworker? Artisan? Craftsman? Designer/Creative. Our designs range from custom furniture and installations to small custom homes.
2. How did you get started? Ive always designed/built as much of my own furniture/environment as I could. In 2013, my wife and I had downsized and purged all our belongings to take a 2 year road trip. Upon returning we hated the idea of simply buying all our furniture rather than each piece being intentional, and started designing/building them instead.
The garage transformed into an ADU, courtesy of zenboxdesign.com
3. Why wood? Our designs tend to use a combination of wood and steel, but we feel wood is critical because of the softness and warmth it brings to a space. All the better if that wood is also reclaimed and has a story/history to tell.
4. What was the first thing you made from wood? As best I can recall, a 3’ tall model of the Trojan Horse, when I was 6th grade. As Zenbox design, I think our first piece was a steel and reclaimed wood barstoolthat we still use (and offer to clients) today.
5. What does being creative meant to you? It’s simply how my brain works—I have to be designing or creating something to feel active or alive. It’s not a switch I can turn off and I naturally find my brain creatively redesigning every space I walk into and everything I touch.
6. Do you have any rituals? None.
7. What is your favorite piece? Our tiny home has a bar/island that takes up no space on a day to day basis but can roll out to seat 6–8 when we entertain. It’s a 6’ long slab of reclaimed fir we took out of the house in the remodel and it seems to be the perfect combination of creative reuse because the material is serving in its second life and the piece itself serves multiple roles (and is also the centerpiece of our home).
6′ slab of reclaimed fir, courtesy of zenboxdesign.com
8. Who inspires you? Anyone who is thinking and living outside the box, breaking norms and following their dreams!
9. What do you hope to communicate through your work? Clean lines. Elegant simplicity. Functional beauty.
10. If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? We seem to be constantly reinventing ourselves, so “this” is different every day. Luckily we seem to keep finding clients that push our creativity and expertise, so the evolution of Zenbox Design is created by the projects and clients we choose to partner with. If we one day run out of both client and personal projects, I guess I would likely become a tattoo artist, or scuba diving instructor, or both.
11. The ultimate piece you want to create? I feel like each new client presents this opportunity. The goal is always to design that person or families’ perfect custom home. To craft both the environment and pieces within it in a creative and functional way so that their living space literally transforms their lifestyle.
12. What’s your favorite thing about PDX? The people. The creatives. The dreamers. We travel much of the year and have yet to find anyplace with the intense diversity, creativity, and “weirdness” that is Portland. It’s almost impossible to not be charged or pushed creatively here. We live our lives outside the box and Portland seems to the only place where that is not only accepted but fully understood and supported/celebrated!