Category Archives: Stranger Furniture

CAFAM – the before

Out with the old (desk) and in with the new…

Craft and Folk Art Museum

It’s quite rare indeed that the L.A. BoxCo gets to pool their talents and resources to produce a singular piece, together as a group. We’ve fortunately come across that opportunity with a new design for the entry desk of the Craft and Folk Art Museum across from LACMA on Wilshire. This tiny gem on Museum Row shows some really delightful exhibitions and is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’ve never been there.

Andrew Riiska taking some measurements.

The old desk is currently being demolished with all of its hardware to be repurposed for the future project. The new desk will be a perfect fit for the museum which promotes excellent design and craft, not to mention it will be made locally with sustainable methods.

So check back here to see the desk progress!

The Dunnage Show at Inheritance

LA Box Collective at AltBuild 2011

AltBuild 2011 is this weekend. Come say hello and meet members of the LA Box Collective at the Santa Monica Civic Center, this Friday and Saturday, May 6th and 7th. Admission is FREE.

The crew has big plans! Come see what we have and learn about sustainable building and remodeling resources.

So Happy Together

The BoxCo Debut Exhibition has moved from AltBuild and now resides at Fifth Floor in Chinatown.  The reception will be Saturday, June 12th, from 6-9pm.  We hope to see you there!  Also, you can check out some more images of all the pieces here.

BoxCo Installation at Fifth Floor

-Robert Apodaca

AltBuild Debut

I brought my camera to capture the excitement that was sure to be moving around in our space at AltBuild and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to make sure the battery was charged before leaving home. Foolish... I managed to get some good footage of some of our work, but William Stranger saved the day.  William was very generous in allowing me to film him while he worked on his utensil and as you see in the film, he offered up very insightful words that embody what all of us at BoxCo feel in one way or another.

This selection of our work will show again at Fifth Floor Gallery this month, so I will have a new opportunity to film everyone’s work and present the LA Box Collective in all it’s glory.   Stay tuned for AltBuild Debut II.

BoxCo’s Altbuild Debut Photos

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whyrHymer Promo

Moving here to be an actor turned out to not quite be what Entertainment Tonight led me to believe.  Those anchors just make it seems so inviting and dang easy!  But I did learn a lot about filmmaking and this is an aspect of my work that was an unexpected new source of creative power to develop within my efforts of promoting my work.  Technology has allowed someone like myself to produce this video in my house against a large piece of white paper and various settings in my shop with very little cost besides the camera (Cannon 7D).  It takes a lot of planning to be able to shoot and work at the same time without a project taking double the time.  I learned the hard way!

Video on the internet is exploding and this is my effort and I will surely bring more.Be on the look out for a LA Box Collective video soon from our first show at Alt Build with an as he is carving impromptu but insightful interview with BoxCo member William Stranger.  Stay Tuned….

Take care.


April 27, 2010
Media Contact: EK Boatright-Simon, (310) 439-0005

Sustainability is not a new idea but the imperative to live a sustainable life is. We are radically rewinding our approach to a time when value was placed on fine craftsmanship, long-lasting materials and sound design. Looking forward, we value the precious materials that our society wastes.

– from L.A. Box Collective mission statement

The 12-strong L.A. Box Collective (Boxco), a select group of Los Angeles-based professional furniture makers committed to environmentally-conscious design and production, will make its debut at the AltBuild Home Show event on Friday and Saturday, May 7-8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

While working in various modern styles, the individual furniture makers that make up Boxco are collectively devoted to fine craftsmanship, sound design, and the use of long-lasting, reclaimed, and other sustainable materials. The group has come together to showcase what Los Angeles has to offer in the way of beautiful design, crafted locally and sustainably, and ultimately to encourage buyers to look for the “Made in Southern California” stamp.

“Los Angeles gets a lot of attention for its vibrant history of design in furniture and architecture, for people like Sam Maloof and Charles and Ray Eames,” said Cliff Spencer, founder of Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker and a member of the collective. “But we want people to know that this level of design and talent is not a thing of the past, it’s alive and well in Marina del Rey, Downtown, Culver City, Frogtown, Pasadena, all the soft, industrial pockets of L.A there are talented designers and artisans who are using all kinds of materials to reinvent Southern California design. We want to draw attention to this current generation of players.”

Sam Moyer, founder of Samuel Moyer Furniture and another member of the collective, adds, “It benefits our nation’s economy to buy locally, and it is the sustainable thing to do. We want people to know you don’t have to buy from Europe to get furniture that won’t emit toxins. We’re making responsible furniture right here in Los Angeles.”

The other 10 members of the collective are Sidecar Furniture, caseandgrain,      whyrHymer, Robert Apodaca, Stranger Furniture, Edward Pine Stevens, Riiska Design, and Topher Paterno.

Furniture makers in the collective have made a pact to: 1) use a comprehensive approach in their work that includes sustainable design, materials, fabrication and finishes; 2) make objects that use resources mindfully, having no toxic impact on the environment and lasting for generations; 3) buy recycled materials, supplies, and tools in the studio and office, and recycle; 4) source locally; 5) share resources to facilitate the growth and integrity of Los Angeles’ small businesses, rooted in sustainable products; 6) educate others about sustainable principals through community outreach, gallery shows and the media; 7) fabricate original designs, influencing the design community and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

Members of Boxco often use materials that would otherwise be disposed of including wood production by-products or off-cuts (scrap), trees from urban or suburban areas that are dead, fallen, fire kill, diseased or a nuisance (urban salvage), orchard trees that are unproductive and cut for replacement (orchard salvage), wood or other material recovered from landfills or dumpsters (“trash”), and logs recovered from the bottom of lakes or rivers.

If wood is not reclaimed, members purchase lumber from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-certified). These forests are managed according to guidelines which protect the forest environment, regulate the impact on local communities and ensure sustained yield and species diversity for long-term economic viability.

Boxco members also use products derived from fast-growing, non-wood sources such as FSC-certified bamboo and grains, recycled glass, metal and paper, as well as board with no-added urea formaldehyde (NAUF) or no-added formaldehyde (NAF), water-based or low toxic glue, and zero or low-VOC finishes. They design for high material yield, and energy efficient production, often using hand tools, natural light or air drying.

And why the box?

A box is one of the simplest things a woodworker can make, conceptually, but it still requires skill to execute properly. Members of the L.A. Box Collective use their skills as box makers to design and fabricate fine furniture. Tables, chairs and casework utilize the basic design elements, structural physics, and techniques of box making. They have sides, a top and a bottom.

For questions about the L.A. Box Collective or to set up an interview with members, please call EK Boatright-Simon at (310) 439-0005, email, or visit the website at

L.A. Box Collective, Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker, Samuel Moyer Furniture, Sidecar Furniture, caseandgrain, whyrHymer, Robert Apodaca, Stranger Furniture, Edward Pine Stevens, Topher Paterno, Riiska Design

some thoughts on hand-made design

I read in Dwell about a manufacturing process based on a layered digital design. Furniture is fabricated by a machine, which builds up each layer from a composite material until the whole object is complete.  Part of me is fascinated by this technology, and the design boundaries it breaks.  This is beginning to sound a lot like science fiction.  In the Diamond Age, by Neil Stevenson, everything is fabricated this way.  However there is still a small group of artisans who still make things by hand and this almost lost art has become highly valued.

We are in a period when disposable, mass-produced objects are ubiquitous.  From its roots, in the Bauhaus, where craft and design went hand in hand, modern design has become synonymous with mass production.  I am interested in the simplicity and functionality inherent in the design tenets of modernism, but I am drawn to the warmth and energy of the hand-made.  The difference between a factory built piece and a similar design that has been made at the bench, with attention and patience, can be huge.

I want to celebrate the imperfections of materials and use them as design opportunities, rather than eliminate them for a uniform appearance.  Inspiration drawn from the world of images that emerge from the subconscious when the mind is quiet, can play a greater role if we are working with materials while the design is still fluid.   I love the way design evolves.  There is a flash of inspiration.  An image appears, perhaps in the half dream of awakening.  As I am drawing, the image has already changed from the fully formed but unmanifest world of the mind to the two-dimensional rendering in which construction details and material constraints must be considered.

Sometimes, designs that come from strong visual images will change little in the fabrication process.  The work of the hand is to translate the vision into a real object.  Here the emphasis is on fine craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the subtle choices of material and relationships that form a more dynamic whole.  Usually, though, design and fabrication are part of the same process.  I may start with a sketch or a half formed idea.  I will look at my scrap heap or my wood racks for material inspiration.  As relationships within a piece take shape, the design may shift.  A chance cut into a board may reveal a different direction for material use.  This is the pain and pleasure of the design process.  The disappointment when a joint or reveal doesn’t look quite the way it did in the mind’s eye or the quiet joy when parts are assembled and the piece begins to take on a life of its own.  As Agnes Demille put it, “the divine dissatisfaction”.

Working with the organic forms of natural edge slabs, allows me the greatest freedom to bring together the hand and eye (and heart).  Often a design will come directly from the form of a board.  Imperfections in the wood will suggest a pattern of inlays that has the right tension.  Irregularities can be embraced which lead to dramatic design decisions.

The work that I do is making simple, functional furniture.  Inspiration, design, planning, and fabrication are inextricably linked.  Sometimes the process starts in the middle and goes from one end to the other and back again, before a finished piece emerges.

I have said my work blurs the boundaries between design, art and craft, but actually, it just ignores them.  The work is the work and it seems artificial to push it into one box or another.  Is it art or is it craft?  Does it belong in the design art world?  These are the wrong questions.  I am interested in the process.  I am interested in conceiving an object, refining its design and executing it.  I cannot imagine the design process divorced from the fabrication process.

For me this also extends to the sourcing of sustainable materials and the use of scrap as a resource for innovative design. I sometimes see a live urban tree before it is cut. This intimacy with materials informs the design process. I find inspiration in the living tree.

william stranger

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all this, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open.” ~Agnes Demille to Martha Graham.